Frances Stark

Frances Stark explores the use and meaning of langauge in her work, and I am particularly interested in the way that this is addressed within the context of the digital.

My Best Thing, 2011

This piece of Stark’s follows the ongoing conversations between the artist and two Italian men, the artist engages the men in ‘web-sex’ and records these conversations, relaying them through two Adam and Eve-like animated characters on a monochrome green background. The conversations move from explicitly sexual to philosophical, and for me this engagement, coupled with the simplified, childlike animation, offers a reflection upon the relationships that can develop through online interactions. In particular, the conversation seems to flow so stagnantly, which is further emphasised by the monotonous tone of the synthetic computerised voice. There seems to be no hierarchy in conversation topics, and the conversation flows from very sexual language to philosophical – reflective of the range and treatment of information existing online and the sort of discussions that can flow into one another.

Poets on the Pyre, 2015

Stark herself has noted a harshness in the tone of her latest Instagram movies, a tone instituted partly through keen pacing and a driving rhythm. Indeed, aural and visual pulse and rhyme are of prime importance to all of Stark’s video and digital works. She conceives of the new Instagram movies, however, as a uniquely raw, knowing form of visual poetry — ‘rapping’ with images — the stakes of which are high. A writer herself, and an artist immersed in emerging (sometimes short-lived) modes of communication, Stark senses ‘that the fate of the poet or intellectual is an uncertain one.’ Her corresponding definition of poetry is crucially as well as historically expansive: the etymological root of poem is the ancient Greek verb for ‘to make.’ Despite being rigorously composed, whether as individual images or slide by slide, Stark’s Instagram works corroborate the uncertainty that both haunts and guides today’s ‘poets.‘” – Art Institute of Chicago

This piece by Frances Stark further explores sexuality and the web, she makes subtle innuendo’s that flow into one another – creating a fragmented narrative set with an explicit rap in the background. Following the comments above, it can be recognised that there is a poetic element to the work, one that is reminiscent of the flow of materials that appear on social media sites. Stark appears to be responding to the growing use of the internet/social media as a mode of communication – highlighting the poetic nature of this. It is an interesting response actually, and one that has challenged perhaps my own attitudes towards my work, I am very much focused on the same issue of the changing method of information communication – but Stark’s work to me offers a commentary, not on the fragmentation of the language of the internet, but of a new form of poetic communication that has a unique existence of its own.


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