Directing Weeds : Dieneke Jansen. 4 AUGUST - 4 SEPTEMBER 2008

Mobile Parameter Review

it is not as if these dummies were humanised; rather, human beings are forced into the sphere of the inanimate. They seem molecules in a stream of matter.’[i]

Two emancipative forms remain for the passenger. An inertia produced through automotive motion, a prosthetic recumbence, Solipsistic in its sedentary deferral, centripetally contained as this latent ballistic feature over a flat, inexhaustible terrain. The land slides by, spot-lit by an extramural light source. There’s something aphrodisiac in the prophylactic nature of all this forgetful hubris. J.G. Ballard situates its licentious stasis at the end of a cul de sac and leaves it reclining in insulated endgame foreplay. Damoclean in its adjournment of danger, such travel prompts a retrograde optic, historical redemption. As McLuhan writes, the present is beheld persistently as this peripheral, oscillating past… passed. We look at the present through a rear view mirror[ii] An immanent/imminent threat is witnessed as flirtation, experienced in kinematic comfort, receding as an immutable, speculative on-looking, blissed-out cabin-pressure absorption. Out of this sedate-spectatorship, this marooned phenomenology, rises a prosthetic imaginary, an amnesiac omniscience, the world gets traversed, a tracking-shot caricature. Landscape becomes a subsiding fixture ever distance diminishing. “What once might have been called reverie,” writes Jonathan Crary, “now most often takes place aligned with preset rhythms, images, speeds and circuits that reinforce their relevance and dereliction of whatever is not compatible with their formats... the question of how and whether creative modes of trance, inattention, daydream, and fixation can flourish within the interstices of these circuits”[iii]. A loiterature occurs but it’s as mixed up as McLuhan’s metaphor: “Marching Forward into the Past” sitting still in a car. It’s at the intersection of this reverie and a more concrete boredom that Dieneke Jansen’s Directing Weeds images appear, banal in their valedictory temperament, antagonistic wallflowers that linger at the limn between the sterile incubator of the car park and the vernal urban exterior, living up their curatorial appellation by attempting to reorient what the artist calls ‘the notion of the natural’ with ‘pot plant’ light box fixtures that fill the Glade requirements for a ‘fragrance landscape’[iv] while leaving a nauseous whiff of exhaust at that terminal interface. The works foreground a Plurality of Isolations[v] that happen at a functional checkmate. Sartre observes a group of people waiting at the bus stop in a similar manner, yet we have here an even less festive theoretical effigy: drivers attempting to seize prescribed allocations, a hallucinatory serial ennui, natural selection. It’s a moribund displacement, the selected, the manufactured, the effigy-like nature of the images point to the drip-feed impossibility of resuscitation. But the other weeping plants that spill over the fa├žade of the Lichfield Street Car Park point out the predicament of Jensen’s situation. As a friend suggested, perhaps the works would have fitted better in the vitreous milieu of the suburban mall, with its in vitro sustainability – The conditioning of air, the maintained charity of sanitation, the charisma of adjacent merchandising might have chimed more easily with Jansen's variations on a groomed landscape. The works succeed as a series of fake photosyntheses, double-exposing an artificial ‘notion of the natural’ that distributes or pollinates the polluted arterial landscape, both ‘directing’ and being directed by the messy subjects of our taxonomical pursuits. And I suppose the car park is apposite in terms of parenthesizing a similarly regulated joie de vivre, a highway emancipation anchored in both the cloistered environs of the art gallery and the car park, but it’s all to epitaphic: the works wilt in the redundant crypt of the vehicle enclosure: in and out, it’s all too overwrought and the clinical limn between the miasma of the internal lot and the macroscopic miasma of the City that Shines remains as uninspiring as it ever was.

[i] Siegfried Kracauer, From Caligari to Hitler: A Psychological History of the German Film. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004, p. 186.

[ii] Marshall McLuhan and Quentin Fiore, The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects. San Francisco: Hardwired, 1996, p. 75.

[iii] Jonathan Crary, Suspensions of Perception: ­­Attention, Spectacle, and Modern Culture. Mass.: MIT Press, 2001, p. 78.


[v] Jean-Paul Sartre quoted in Joe Moran, Reading the Everyday. London/New York: Routledge, 2005, p. 1.