Tuesday, September 1, 2009

City (Los Angeles)

I lived in London a few years back – got used to the soot and the tea breaks and the football (ah footie)! After a year, work demanded I take a short trip to the heart of America – Los Angeles - which I’d never been to. What a contrast! In LA, the sun always shone, the smiles were gleaming white, the streets were so smooth and wide. The moment I landed in LA, strangers, in line at Starbucks, at the gas station, in the middle of a crowded gig, just about everywhere, would embrace, shout “Hiya!” Call me!” and hand over a business card (often with no business described). But beneath their sunny smiles was a slight desperation. Making a living in LA was tough. Most visitors don’t see the back side of the Hollywood sign, the side left unairbrushed.

In City (Los Angeles), presented by the Brooklyn is Watching project, Miso Susanowa wants us to appreciate the real LA, its gritty, overwhelming side, the LA beyond the starry sidewalks. Susanowa recorded the sounds of the night outside her apartment window in LA at Hollywood and La Brea Avenues. Photographs of Hollywood Blvd. make up a three sided box in which Susanowa invites the viewer to sit among a moving grid of disorienting “snapshots” showing nameless, featureless faces. The chaotic sounds of the LA night is amplified all around. Viewing the installation in mouselook allows the viewer to become tangled in the grid.

As much as Susanowa wants to illustrate the dark side of her city, there is something rather beautiful about the installation whilst you’re immersed in it. The screen shots I took look like some kind of technofied marblized paper.

While the people I met in LA may have been struggling in their tiny run-down houses, they had fresh fruit to eat every day, dropping off the trees in their back gardens. Susanowa has captured LA as a city of contradictions.

Visit City here.

Pacific Theme by Broken Social Scene.