Appropriating the State's Apparatus of Crisis Signification

The consistent use of the signifiers of crisis, even in the absence of any real emergency, can disquiet the people and artifically create the pervasive sense of an impending catastrophe. The use by Homeland Security of heightened conditions of alert for political purposes has been well documented (cite\ reference on elevated alerts prior to elections or in conjunction with government vulnerabilities). Invoking the signifying apparatus of emergency creates a response of fear and uncertainty, even in the absence of any real threat.

The Emergencies Series consist of site-specific installations of first responder vehicle emergency lighting systems; police car rooftop light bars, fire engine flashers, strobe lights, search lights, and rotating beacons. These diverse signifiers of emergency are arrayed in a dark interior or exterior space in the same orientation and configuration as if they were attached to real vehicles. They are illuminated and activated, providing the primary signifiers-at-a-distance of emergency, but the space is totally devoid of the actual vehicles they normally accompany. Instead, they are distilled to thier primary social function of signifying crisis. Paradoxically, their strident and glaring presence further obscures the fact that there are no emergency vehicles present and there is no emergency in progress.

This is signification of crisis without the substance of crisis. Despite the empty nature of the display, the viewer is unable to quell a pervasive sense of unease, of foreboding and disquiet. In this way the works palpably provide an enhanced experience of how the apparatus of crisis signification can itself, even in the absense of crises, invoke fear.

Far from being pedegogical works on the mechanisms of the creation and maintenance of fear on the part of the state, the Emergencies works are direct, experiential confrontations with the creation of fear and unease by employing the signfiers of emergency and crisis.

xx million domestic airline passengers each week are subjected to a regimen of search and violation of personal privacy commesurate with total martial law. One reason that this is endured and even welcomed is the result of the consistent employment and manipulation of crisis signfication on the part of the state. Six years ater 911 and in the complete absence of any further attacks within the US the population still welcomes this profound government intrusion. One reason is the fear continuously provoked by the consistent employment by the state of the appartaus of crisis signification.

Typical Budget

Preston Hollow, New York