LEO GABIN AT 10N
"Hearsay" - Until 23.10.22
Leo Gabin is a composite of three players lawlessly engaged in the collection and manipulation of digital artifacts. Sans individualism, content and origins are under constant negotiation within their practice. The trio searches and catalogs testimonies in order to conjure essences and emotions contained in the uploads of strangers. Screenshots and clips are largely pulled from Youtube uploads. Content dating back to the early days of the internet places emphasis on the
lost era of internet amateurism when cyberspace was chiefly populated by unknown users and the material impacts of such connectivity were yet to be seen. As the web grew more popular, the dissemination of individual voices and “internet personalities” broadcast around the world disrupted traditional cultural production and fast-tracked a new brand of globalism.
Notably, the intrusion of technology in private homes disrupts the border between public and private domains - an operation that Leo Gabin confronts head on. With the internet’s advent, any room can become a space of projection. Leo Gabin’s archive is a zone where things and ideas develop, sometimes left without return, other times they are revisited years later. They do not aim to critique anyone or their accounts, but to latch onto multifarious vibrations contained within the World Wide Web. Times change but Leo Gabin endeavors to evolve with them - their ever-expanding digital collection along for the ride.
The collaborative entity Leo Gabin is a whole composed of three parts: Lieven Deconinck, Gaëtan Begerem, and Robin De Vooght. This approach is echoed in Hearsay’s formal elements. Every object in the room functions on behalf of the installation. It was crucial to find the right chairs, table, and cloth and other elements that are integral to the transformation of space. The gallery space has become an affect-ridden situation with aesthetics borrowed from waiting rooms, corporate workspaces, and healing group spaces. Leo Gabin’s installation is not meant to merely replicate architectures, but rather, to replicate the feelings lodged within them. Like waiting for an appointment where there are flashes on tv screens and the anticipatory anxiety that stirs whenever some greater destiny is kept at arm's length. The visitor is doomed to purgatory.
Sensory interventions are rife throughout the installation. Upon entering, one is met either by a wall of sound or else the interim between blasts of noise emanating from speakers. An AC hums in the background at low volume, discernible only when the video’s sound cuts out. A melange of chairs is sprinkled throughout the room, each particularly selected in order to communicate office scenarios, meeting halls, and the like. One such arrangement denotes a communal therapy meeting with seats facing one another in a closed circle. Design speaks! Stacks of chairs are assembled in corners, selected for their generic conference room subtext.
The project of modernization has yielded spatial detritus known as “Junkspace.” A particular melancholy is borne from these deadened zones, which Leo Gabin diagnoses and integrates within Hearsay’s design. Mundane contributions from disparate sources meet the artists’ editing principles as Leo Gabin filters through their mise en abyme internet archive. Videos that go unviewed collect virtual dust in a manner parallel to that of vacant or liminal spaces that persist despite neglect. Time capsules and visual poetries are constructed from this digital matter. A new video is embedded with the installation - participating in Leo Gabin’s particularized set.
Audio fragments and flashes of footage mime a quick scroll - the mode in which one skips through videos and other content while “surfing the web.” Despite the voices and sounds reverberating in the space, moments of quiet are crucial to the experience. In these interim periods one is able to commune with his or her own thoughts as opposed to being bombarded by images or someone else’s ideations. The screen on which the video plays is mounted high, mirroring its standard placement in hospitals.
Each voice in the piece is faceless, only ever paired with a black background in an effort to toggle between auditory and visual inputs. Leo Gabin provides self-shot footage alongside mined audio clips from the internet. At one point an anonymous boy tearfully explains his predicament between sniffling. After some time he exclaims “this is fucking horrible content! Goddammit!” Something crucial emerges here, as the boy implicates his audience and shatters the fourth wall. This frustrated expression reveals a twofold preoccupation with his interiority and the response of his viewership.
While making a video or installation, objects and ideas are added and contingencies begin to emerge. Nothing is prescribed or written out, this process is a collage in both content and form. Hearsay has been in the works for years - it inevitably emerged at the right moment when their collection of materials reached a point of satisfaction. Similitudes of various zonal affects coincide here with Leo Gabin’s cyberspatial preoccupation. Ultimately, the trio characterizes the ennui of our Internet Age and the web’s crisis of authorship and ownership.
Curated by Jérôme Nicod
Text written by Reilly Davidson
Pictures by Silvia Cappellari