L’oeil Vigilant, Season 3


L’oeil Vigilant is a poetry magazine published in the form of a surveillance feed for your smartphone. As the images below hint, season 3 will focus on the daily progress (or lack thereof) in the construction of a 30-storey luxury condominium tower on the banks of the Harlem River in the South Bronx:


Whereas previous seasons of the magazine have been structured in monthly episodes written and designed by artists, Season 3 will be a single, continuous surveillance stream with the occasional rectilinear graphic or line of poetry dropped in. Throughout, the feed from our Everfocus Ultra 720+ security camera will chronicle the comings and goings of structural pipe, I-beams, seagulls, grafitti, earth movers, and the occasional group of men standing in a semi-circle talking and pointing at things:



Season three is inspired by two gestures that bracket the very short career of famed Belgian artist Marcel Broodthaers. The first is his next to last publication, The Conquest of Space: Atlas for use of artists and the military (1975), which obliquely alludes to the often culpable—always violent—process of gentrification.The second is Expo 58, a text written by Broodthaers recounting (with considerable humor) his experience as a hired laborer for the Brussels Worlds Fair in 1957:



It is interesting to note that Marcel Broodthaers died in 1976, right at moment when analog video was becoming a specialized contemporary art medium but long before there was a broad market for consumer-based digital home surveillance. Given the nascent developments in Broodthaers’ visual aesthetic at the time—exhibitions in Berlin, London, and Paris belied an emerging interest in banal, all-over visual compositions—I think he was just beginning to sense the cognitive shift of the television age, the disciplined, participatory effect of viewing images on dot matrix screens. It would seem that Broodthaers was becoming aware that we don’t watch such screens so much as surveil them, our eyes pulled across their surfaces in the constant search and assembly of content. There is a similar watchfulness— and distraction—in Broodthaers late work. L’oeil Vigilant is dedicated to that visual and cognitive shift.



two other recent Broodthaers-related shows here

Broodthaers-related merchandise here