Interpellation is a concept I think about a great deal. Or rather, I call the thing I think about interpellation without having done extensive background research to know whether I’m using the term wholly correctly or more in the Althusserian or Foucaldian sense, et cetera. I believe that both Althusser and Foucault would have accepted a common usage that interpellation describes a specific interaction between a person and a mantle of subjecthood. To describe what interpellation is, the example is often given of a policeman calling out “Hey you” into a crowd. Somebody will turn around, in effect ‘becoming’ the ‘you’ the policeman indicated (and in so doing creating a relationship between the subject and policeman, and also between the subject and the state apparatus, and so on). In effect, the acts of creating, recognizing, and naming a bounded ’self’ are combined into a single act.
Another way of putting it is this: I don’t much think of myself as a ‘self’ at all for most of the time. And I don’t think that other people do either. I think most of us spend lots of time just sensing, thinking and reacting to things without much measuring what the parameters of our ‘selves’ are. Maybe that’s changing or diminishing as we collectively spend more time online tending to the avatars we cull to present our ‘selves’ to friends, potential lovers, co-workers and so on.
Missed Connections is a series of paintings directly mired in that situation. Each painting begins as a Craigslist post from the men seeking men section. I choose a single line from the ad that posits a well-formed and interpellative potential — a moment where the subject is both invented and, in this particular context, anonymized. Anonymized because scenarios of this type spur primarily the creation and recapitulation of ambiguous scripted events, with people assuming roles of actors. In other words, the creation of this kind of disposable identity is already the beginning scene of an unfulfilled set of relationships and transactions, and in that context the concept of ‘self’ gets pretty murky.
These works express an elliptical relationship to that situation. To create the paintings, I use a translative mapping to create a feedback of color modulation based on the grammar in the selected sentence. Stripe widths and accretions of hue are based on word lengths and parts of speech in the text.