Questioning Lazy Generation: Matthew Williamson’s Down and Out

by Ellie Chung

Matthew Williamson Down and Out, 2012

Matthew Williamson, Down and Out, 2012

Take a look at Matthew Williamson’s ‘tutorials on thinking deeply in a shallow way,’ Down and Out series (2012). The artist commodifies one’s internal private thoughts by externalizing and then sharing to a nonspecific broad public with minimal articulation. There are total 25 short videos, each featuring iPhone generated 3D animations rotating slowly for about a minute and a half. The viewers will hear Williamson musingly commenting about personal insights regarding the internet culture and technology such as emails or smartphones and google image search. The consequences of bringing personal moments of self-reflections into the realm of public consumption remain questionable.

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Matthew Williamson, Down and Out, 2012

In Down and Out #2 and #10, the artist wonders how the social media makes it easier to construct one’s net identity by the passive approval system such as facebook likes or twitter favorites and re-tweets. Williamson then points to the absence of disapproval systems. If there are facebook dislikes or other disapproval options, which posts would you disapprove of openly? And how would this help establish your net identity? I believe social media users inevitably construct their own self images that are presented to the other users. Even when one is keeping his/her profile photo blank or does absolutely no activity after opening the account, the person’s net identity is still designed as the apathetic userinstead of having no identity in the internet world.

Williamson often raises questions about the advancement of technology and the entailing changes in the means of communication. In the ‘70s, people would not even have a notion of checking their emails. We type more than we hand write. Listening to him casually talking about the loss of tactility in today’s communication, I moan how communication through the virtual world has discarded the physical intimacy of the past. Do you also lament how the tactility of the keyboard stands in for the touch ofanother? When would emails or SMS become obsolete forms of communication? What would possibly replace our modern means of communication and what aspects would people in the future miss?

Throughout Down and Out series Williamson jibber jabbers random self-reflective thoughts. Once in a while, you can hear back noises such as his phone vibrating, chair squeaking, or even siren outdoor. Do you think Willamson’s informal and effortless attempts to articulate and share his thoughts are indifferent labor? If so, what does it make your devotion to come to the gallery and listen to him? Are there any random insights of your own that you would share with the public like the artist has done? What are those thoughts?

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Matthew Williamson, Down and Out, 2012

I questioned and questioned and questioned after every point Williamson had raised during his series of should I say, instant commentaries. Then I laid my wonders here with minimal editing from the very first registration in my though process. I am the following Matthew Williamson.  After all, the artist himself referred Down and Out series as ‘tutorials.’ So I lazily followed his lazy protocols to be a lazy commentator.

Matthew Williamson’s Down and Out series is one of featuring works of Satellite Gallery’s exhibition, Welcome to Screenland, running until September 13th.



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