Marisa Olson: Double Bind
June 1, 2010 - August 31, 2010
The term double bind commonly refers to a paradox or conflicting set of demands. But it also has a specific meaning in the world of cybernetics, where it is used to describe messages that conflict with each other at different levels of meaning, making it difficult for the recipient to determine the nature of the paradox, to confront the inherent dilemma, or to escape the conflict.
Marisa Olson’s Double Bind (2010) is a YouTube video of the artist wrapping her head and face in pink bondage tape, accompanied by a second video of her unwrapping the tape. Referencing the YouTube custom of the response video—in which users reply to others’ videos with videos of their own—Double Bind encapsulates both original and response. It brackets Olson’s ambivalence toward the promise and pitfalls of online participatory culture, while also invoking considerations of feminist art, Lacanian psychoanalysis, and contemporary media politics.
In their 1974 video work Boomerang, Richard Serra and Nancy Holt taped Holt describing her experience of/while hearing her own words on a one-second delay. In 2009, Olson posted a YouTube response video, Performed Listening: Boomerang, in which she joins in the feedback chorus. Boomerang prefigures the disorienting, immediate, and recombinant nature of Internet response culture, and Olson’s work drives the point home. Olson’s YouTube videos operate in the social space of the viewer, inviting us to join her ongoing inquiry into the politics of spectatorship and participation; Double Bind positions us between the false poles of high and low culture, and between utopian and dystopian views of media culture.
Marisa Olson is a New York–based artist, curator, and writer who studied rhetoric at UC Berkeley and history of consciousness at UC Santa Cruz. She is currently assistant professor of new media at SUNY-Purchase. Olson’s artistic practice ranges from performance to installation to video to net art, and her subjects range from participation in pop culture to the aesthetics of failure.
Digital Media Director & Adjunct Curator