Melanie Gilligan, The Common Sense (photo by Juha van 't Zelfde)
Melanie Gilligan, The Common Sense (photo by Juha van 't Zelfde)


13 April 2015

Research in progress. All of this will make sense one day.

Poster for The Common Sense, designed by Metahaven
Poster for The Common Sense, designed by Metahaven

“What would happen if you could physically experience what another person touches?” This is the central question artist Melanie Gilligan poses in her fantastic new serialist video installation ‘The Common Sense’, commissioned and presented by a trio of art institutions in the Netherlands: De Hallen Haarlem, De Appel in Amsterdam and Casco in Utrecht.

“This experimental narrative drama, ‘The Common Sense’, tells a story of the future technology, ‘The Patch’, a sort of prosthesis which makes it possible to directly experience the physical sensations and feelings of another person. After a decade of transforming the conditions of work and social life, for the most part in accordance with economic demands, the technology’s networks suddenly fail causing massive disorientation. People withdraw into themselves, isolating themselves in their homes, since they no longer know how to communicate with one another in a meaningful way without the aid of the technology. When the system is again ‘online’, and The Patch is functioning again, the story splits into two separate parallel storylines. In one of the storylines after the rupture society undergoes a normalisation and The Patch continues as a part of daily life. In the second storyline, groups come together to try to form social movements to resist the exploitative elements of the technology.”

The installation is beautifully made, and in a way, this felt like an artist’s response to binge watching serialist drama like House of Cards. The individual episodes only last 4-5 minutes, and are on a continuous loop. Visitors wear headphones that connect seamlessly through radio to the nearest video playing. This has the elegant effect of walking through the space, playing the installation as you wish.

Very intelligent, incredibly inviting, and just very well executed. I thoroughly enjoyed this piece. With her work, Gilligan “raises questions about our present relationship to technology, which increasingly shapes our minds, our bodies, and the way we live and interact within a capitalist system.” Something we aim to do with the works we support, develop and present at Lighthouse too, not in the least with the development of ‘The Sprawl’.

‘The Common Sense’ is still on view at De Appel until May, it is worth a trip over to Amsterdam.

By Juha van ’t Zelfde, Artistic Director of Lighthouse.



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