Andrew Wright Gets Inspired by 24's Closed Captions
October 14, 2010
By Peter Simpson
Inspiration comes when it wants to, perhaps even in the middle of the night, while you’re barely awake and feeding your infant, first-born child, while watching the TV series 24with the sound off and subtitles on. That’s when Andrew Wright conceived his next big art project, which is titled 24: The entire seventh season as retold using non-dialogue captioning, now showing at the Patrick Mikhail Gallery. The assistant professor in visual arts at the University of Ottawa and his wife were on a gruelling, two-hour feeding schedule with their new son, and watching 24 on DVD was a deep-night distraction.
“We’d have the volume off and read the subtitles,” Wright told me last week (between feedings, one assumes). “That’s when I noticed what I call the ‘non-dialogue’ subtitles, small written cues shown quickly in between the other, dialogue subtitles . . . Sometimes if you missed a couple you’d be lost: when you can’t hear that there’s a gun shot and you don’t read ‘[Rapid Gun Fire]’ you don’t have any idea why every one is scattering spontaneously on screen. Other times they appear not to help at all. “Depending on the way the simplest of things were verbally described, my reading and interpretation of the show started to change drastically. 24’s attempt to regulate every aspect of the narrative through the logic of time and numbers was doomed to always break down.” Wright is making prints of 24’s bracketed captions. The first in the series has the description “[Panting, Exhales]” centered on the paper, and in small type at the bottom, “Excerpted from ‘24: The entire seventh season as retold using non-dialogue captioning,’ caption fifty-seven, Episode 1, 8am-9am, 30 x 44 inches, 2010.”
And, since 24 was a show all about surprises, here’s one for you: the prints cost one cent each. Of course, there’s a catch; you have to buy five prints, for one cent each, and then buy a print per month for 12 months at $100. Wright says captions to come include “[Cell Phone Melody]”, “[Shouts in French]” and the Big Beat Favourite, “[Man on TV, Indistinct.]” Wright “wanted to make something that was not about the rarefied atmosphere of the art world and address(es) everyone’s mundane life.” Wright’s show continues to Oct. 25 at Patrick Mikhail Gallery, 2401 Bank St., as part of the show The Triumph of the Therapeutic. Also in the show are Adrian Göllner, Andrew Morrow, Cheryl Pagurek and a dozen others.