Video installation, 10 minute videoloop,
The video piece “Desensitizer” is a collage of many thousands of stills from violent movies, every still depicting a scene of brutal killing. Together, frame after frame, they form the doubtlessly most violent piece of film ever. 24 murders per second. Individually indistinguishable for the conscious mind, but together a numbing, flickering odyssey through movie violence. A challenge for anybody who believes or does not believe in subliminal perception, and likewise to believers and non believers of the effects of video violence.
Excerpt from the text “Reach for the carrot, it is a weapon!”
Desensitizer places us in an uncomfortable, fear and anxiety generating dentist’s chair and makes us watch a ten minute video loop consisting of twenty-four images of murders (taken from movies) per second. As each image appears for merely a fraction of a second the images cannot be recognised, however they create a flow that at first silences us and then numbs us. This work poses questions to all believers as well as non-believers in sublime perception and the influence of television/film/video violence. Blom discusses the ways in which the contemporary society is interlaced with media as well as the effect information has upon the individual who sucks it all in. Media images are so incorporated into society that it is impossible for anybody living in the Western civilisation to escape their flow.
The artist mediates the message through the unpleasant feeling. The intention of the work is to draw attention to the current state of society that is overloaded with a multitude of information. The media and artistic practices offer an array of violent scenes. This work does not draw attention to the exaggerated production of violence in media, but tries to show how the general presence of media causes a state of numbness that appears after we experience our pleasure that we obtain from watching a violent scene.
Due to the frequency of images in Blom’s video it takes roughly only 30 seconds for us to become numb. Desensitizer offers a condensed summary of the life of a contemporary individual. The condensed images are placed in front of us in the form of a pure fact. As if the artist wanted to say: ‘See, this is how you live and the effect that you feel is the same to the one you carry within yourselves every day.’
And what is our attitude towards the presentation of violence in media?
The two of us are numb.
We are familiar with violence from films, television, the Internet and other media. However, we have never seen such bloodshed in real life … But films also have violent scenes that are hard to swallow. One such scene is the long scene from the Occupation in 26 pictures (1978, directed by Lordan Zafranović) that shows partisans being killed on the bus. In this scene the violence does not mimic the classic film scenes, in which once a body is hit, colour trickles across it. In Desensitizer the scenes change extremely quickly – the only thing that links them and makes them recognisable is the red colour of blood.
The thought that we are sitting in a dentist’s chair and watching a video collage of the bloodiest scenes from the movie history no longer causes us discomfort. The chair is also merely an unavoidable fact that is offered to us by culture. We think about it. When we saw it for the first time we felt pressured and challenged. With its form it drew attention to the fact that something unpleasant will happen to us and then we saw a truly unpleasant thing and were under the impression that this is a collage of society. This is an appropriated image and portrait of our civilisation. We found it slightly reminiscent of dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y by Johan Grimonprez (1997), a one hour documentary, which is however much more romantic than Desensitizer. Violence in itself is not problematic, the way in which it is portrayed is.
Man is an aggressive animal. Without civilisation violence is a means of protection, obtaining food... only with the appearance of civilisation does it become a means of terror and pleasure that merely intensifies through history. In a slightly scary way the dentist’s chair attracts the visitor with its robustness and technological appearance. The work toys with the psyche of the visitor, but only in order to make him think. In this sense Desensitizer is a socially engaged project.