Forming part of the exhibition ‘TTTT’ recently opened at Jerwood Space, London, Mainland Rock (2014) is a three-part video by Benedict Drew filmed in and around New Zealand while the artist was on a residency there earlier this year. The video takes the form of a strange drug-addled trip – strange in that it seems to climax in a paranoiac come-down where buildings are accused of ignoring us and libraries stocked full of books advertise our body’s ‘lackness’. We watch as the camera pans past rows of shelves fading in and out of focus while a voiceover reads, “It lacks all those books, all of them. It hasn’t read them. And what it does have, its ‘have-ness’, is so lossy, so compressed, so full of holes and gaps and … voids. Connected by images not words and writing. But not even images (connected by intensities)”.
Drew’s work at once embodies a feeling of alienation within the built environment around us, while using the same level of technological sophistication to express these insights. His collaging of sound and image defines a particular space, whether of the gallery architecture, or of the structure of our minds.
He straddles analogue and digital technologies, scoring visuals to a soundtrack that recalls the noisy rhythm of a slowed down film projector, here simulating the heightened sensations of a panic attack. At different points during the film the grading of the image separates into red, blue and green, a glitch used to different effect in the video’s epilogue as pink and blue frames flicker strobiscopically, imitating sight as if through eyelids closed tightly against bright sunlight. Drew points to a consciousness shared with the progress of technology where its ‘lossi-ness’ can be compared to our own.