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Prix 1987 - 2007

ORF Oberösterreich

je suis (un readymade)
Benjamin Jay Britton

Benjamin Jay Britton received several degrees (M.F.A. Candidate, San Francisco Art Institute; M.A., Media Arts, Goddard Graduate Program, Mounpelier, VT). Numerous exhibitions (e.g. twice at the Boston Film/Video Foundation; 1989 Artists Television Access, San Francisco; 1990 Artspace, San Francisco; 1990 Subterranean Video, Anaheim, CA).

"je suis (un readymade)" is a touchscreen television installation. Each participant directs his or her own experience through this unfolding discourse surrounding the issue of "free speech" in a mass media environment. Individuals find themselves engaged in a number of sequences revolving around Marcel Duchamp's idea of readymades, found objects, and the use of appropriated material in the making of art. Through the use of new television technologies it suspends the viewer in a media environment which stimulates a sense of contemporaneity and currency. It utilizes randomness, multiple choice, timed choice, and other interactive techniques to create experiences which are unique for every viewer.

A small touchscreen television sits on a table by a chair. It asks you questions and prompts you to touch the screen. Others may sit or stand in the gallery and watch, either over your shoulder or on the large console TV (the image is the same on both screens). You touch the screen to interact with it. It's like five games in one; five sections, each section is different than the others, all of them address appropriation und use of copyrighted material for personal expression. It's like entertainment, but it's not entertainment. It's like a game, but it's not a game. It's actually about human expression, free speech in a mass-mediated environment, the relationship of individuals to media, appropriation, and the use of copyrighted materials in art-making.

In considering the use of found images, sounds or objects, we must account for the origins of the material, the impact of our use of it upon its originators, and the effects of its use on our world. We must take responsibility for that which we appropriate.
Appropriation has become a functional reality because of mechanical and electronic reproduction. So much material is manufactured in our contemporary, synthetic, human-created environments, that it has become difficult to not use preconstructed material for expressive effect.

I believe that appropriation is an essential part of communication, because we are so bombarded by copyrighted images and sounds. I believe that we have a right to use it for expressive purposes. In this piece I ask, "Do you own your own memories?" Human-created images and sounds influence our consciousness. There are ideas which can only be expressed through appropriating these elements and contextualizing them. Appropriation has become a tool, no longer a gesture. But this tool must be used carefully so it does not do harm. Responsible use of appropriation is the position advocated in the piece "je suis (un readymade)".