Yael Kanarek, "Swing," 2011

"Swing", 2011
computational video, sound, custom software, computer
12 hour cycle videoclock
display dimensions variable

Kanarek’s practice is located in the shift from Modernism to a Networked Society. She recombines cultural associations by employing storytelling and multilingualism in new and traditional media. As an Israeli-American woman, many of her works negotiate the young and turbulent national identity within a post-national, and increasingly privatized, global network.

Selected for the 2002 Whitney Biennial, exhibitions of Kanarek's work include The Drawing Center, New York; Beral Madra Contemporary Art, Istanbul; National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens; CU Museum, Boulder; Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University; The Jewish Museum, New York; Exit Art; The Kitchen; American Museum of the Moving Image, New York; Wood Street Galleries, Pittsburgh among many others. In addition to a Rockefeller New Media Fellowship and an Eyebeam Honorary Fellowship, Kanarek is the recipient of grants from the Jerome Foundation Media Arts and New York Foundation for the Arts; commissions from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Turbulence.org, and The Alternative Museum.

In the piece “Swing”, a digital clock is used as the compositional device. The work runs live on a computer and is played by software that syncs video and audio with the computer’s internal clock. Thus, actual time is represented by the audiovisual experience on-screen.
From the 16th Century until the 1930s, the most accurate time-keeping technology was the pendulum. Now obsolete, the pendulum is alluded to with the swinging gesture of a child named Yoav. For he and the other children, time is digital and about counting numbers. In Swing, they take upon themselves the role of timekeepers. At the 23rd minute of the hour, for example, which is the same around the world, his brother, Nadav announces that Yoav has been swinging continuously for 23 minutes.

Every hour, the two brothers and their friends discuss the scarcity of water in Israel and the lack of peace with Syria. Aged between 6 and 8 years old, their simple conversations voice international concerns and national anxieties. “If there’s no more water in the Sea of Galilee, we’re doomed,” says one child. “Right. We’ll die. It’s not like other countries will do us a favor and serve us and say ‘Hey, let’s bring them icebergs from Antarctica’,” says the other. Using sound as the primary marker of time, seconds are indicated by dripping water, as are the strikes at the top of an hour.

“Swing” is messy like child’s play. It proposes form and repeatedly breaks it, starting again. Breaking a fourth wall, the artist, herself, interferes in the frame, cameras are adjusted abruptly, and family members discuss the film production. Powerfully blurring the roles of family, community, political and environmental life, Kanarek’s constantly ticking clock articulates a myriad of relationships that underlie our experience of the present moment.

Software designed by Yael Kanarek and Shawn Lawson.

Please note this is an excerpt.

Video courtesy of the artist and bitforms gallery nyc.

To learn more about Kanarek's work, please visit: