By Benjamin Lucas
This past Tuesday, Union welcomed esteemed post-conceptualist Anthony G. “Tony” Cokes to our newly renovated Karp Hall exhibition room to present a series of digital works as part of Mandeville Gallery’s “Distracted Wreading: From Structural Film to Digital Poetics.”
Cokes, a professor in media production at Brown University, has had his work shown in several renowned museums, such as The Museum of Modern Art in New York City, as well as a number of film festivals around the world. Cokes was featured, along with a few other artists, in the premiere of the exhibit.
The exhibition concludes the Mandeville Gallery’s three-part exhibition, “Mot Juste.” “Distracted Wreading,” comprised of PowerPoint presentations laced with music to accentuate the importance of the written word. The highlight of the evening was the hour-long discussion of Cokes’ better-known works, including Black Celebration, a black-and-white video featuring footage of 1960s lootings and riots overlaid by criticisms of racism and police brutality.
Another notable topic of discussion included his previous work, “Evil,” which skewers the use of “music torture” — a method of psychological torture in which the victim is exposed to prolonged, grating music (usually disco or children’s show tunes) — in American detainment centers.
Cokes’ works are often simple PowerPoints, but they evoke important messages for the audience. The exhibition’s mission is to express the significance of text and language and recognize them as a powerful medium. Cokes takes these two mediums and creates something better than the sum of their parts.