HIDE

>Message Board >Now Big Brother is Listening 


A review of HIDE by Katherine Webborn, Nottingham, June 2006

HIDE is a piece of work that creates aesthetic contradiction. The artist Daniel Lehan uses a digital message board, placed in public spaces, to transmit his observations and overheard conversations. The digital board is similar to those used at train stations and tram stops, and so is synonymous with authorative information, and yet poetic phrases - man in glasses tries to snap off branches - are placed back into the public arena.

Included in Sideshow held recently in Nottingham, the work appeared in the grounds of the castle, the Arboretum, the Cast Bar at Nottingham Playhouse, Lakeside Café at Nottingham University and in the window of a house on Talbot Street. HIDE experiments with the relationship between the audience and the event. By having unplanned, or unannounced 'performances' in public areas, it becomes a piece of art that people come across, or have to set out to try and find. By not being in a traditional gallery setting the work is not immediately identified as art and records the reactions of a wider group of people.

Being transportable, the work has an impulsive and transient quality to it.

The focus of the piece has also changed over time. Rather than it being important that the artist remains hidden and anonymous while inputting text, a few 'performances' of the work revealed the unreliability of technology using remote control. This lead Lehan to input text openly, which on the plus side drew people's attention to the work, but adversely, became a little like the author photo on the inside of the dust jacket, giving a face to the words you read. Yet, the observations and quotes do remain anonymous, for unless an audience member recognizes their actions in the message, they continue to be abstract observations. This development enabled Lehan to be more spontaneous with the location of the board within a geographical area; if there is no need to be hidden, then the board can be placed and moved at will, therefore allowing greater experimentation and the work to be seen in a wider number of places. Number 1 Talbot Street wasn't on the list of venues, but by using it, it shows how flexible HIDE is. This epitomizes the evolution of the curatorial process in HIDE, and shows how the work can adapt as the ideas change.

By using familiar technology in a surprising way, it allows HIDE to not just be art outside, but work that focuses on the audience and their perception of the piece. The flexible curation creates work that travels, evolves and changes, becoming almost a new piece of work each time it is performed.

HIDE: Artworks
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>Message Board >Now Big Brother is Listening 


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