Recite Lipsum Corpus

2018

“Recite Lipsum Corpus” is a two-part audio-video work on mirrored screens. A glitchy, digital surface of the artist’s head — at once reminiscent of classical marble bust, a chroma suit, a bondage mask, and a blank avatar — slowly rotates on the screen, overlapping with the viewer’s own reflected image. Donning headphones, the viewer hears, in the left ear, the artist reciting in spliced and broken loops  —  from often-mistaken memory, for thirty minutes — a meditation on pleasure, pain, and ethics, while in the right ear, a computerised male voice drones on in automated, unwavering latin. Meanwhile, the bust on screen morphs between visemes (phonetic mouth contortions), slipping in and out of sync with the recitation.

This duelling left-right arrangement reflects the source of the text: a unique 1914 first edition of Cicero’s “De Finibus Bonorum et Malorum,” or “On the Ends of Good and Evil,” in which the Latin original text is shown side-by-side with its English translation. The first words on page 36 of the book, “lorem ipsum,” are meaningless without the prefix left hyphenated on the previous page; reconnected, the words are “dolorem ipsum” ("pain itself"). Today, a scrambled version of the paragraphs that follow is ubiquitously utilised in word processors to autofill a page with loops of nonsensical placeholder text, a curious de-contextualisation of philosophically earnest material.

In this work, the artist attempts to embody these found juxtapositions of meaning-making and gibberish, pleasure and pain, embodiment and constraint, effort and automation. By using mirrors and the intimacy of corded headphones, she embeds the viewer in this liminal state as well. 

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