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Artist's statement


Ho there, come now, gather quick/It is the Queens own pleasure.
With lots of fun and loyalty/Let’s give it in good measure. (Sung to the tune of Yankee Doodle)

At the age of 6, I was chosen to be one of three good fairies in the annual first grade theatre production. When the stress of learning so many lines threatened to overwhelm, my father came to the rescue by setting them to music. It was a great success until the time came to deliver. In front of friends, family and the entire school community, I performed as I’d practiced—words intact threaded together by the familiar melody of Yankee Doodle. The audience laughed with delight, my cheeks burned with humiliation and, most importantly, I was rewarded with a bittersweet memory that defined a seminal experience rich in contradiction, thick with implication and made embraceable by its intrinsic lyricism.

Just as the melody of Yankee Doodle acted as a unifying system allowing me to assimilate what seemed at the time to be unmanageable, the body of work entitled Information Anxiety is made accessible through the application of basic systems that are used to connect the often voluminous, disparate and contradictory information we are daily asked to wade through and analyze for meaning.  My process is a simple one. These systems are appropriated from a variety of sources--ones that are commonly employed to order our lives—but when taken out of context and applied to challenging bodies of information, become a unique and provocative way in which to alter meaning.

I choose overlaying systems based on degrees of ubiquity—drawing on the familiar as common denominator. Some are elementary with foundations derived from systems such as melody, color, form, and purpose. Others are more complex drawing upon systems based in technologies that have permeated our daily existence.

One such example is the use of Google as fertile ground for exploration. As a ubiquitous information organizing tool, Google often drives the context hierarchy from which we derive meaning—a dubious learning environment in that it presents results primarily influenced by topic popularity and advertising dollars. In a case like this, using Google rules—keyword, keyphrase, image and video searches—I explore googled pathways, collect and re-organize the plethora of information in mixed media applications structured by the rules of a personal hierarchy (much the way we assimilate new information to create a point of view) that mines semiotic and contextual mutations and beg questions such as:

* Can the application of voluminous information be viewed as the new Baroque—gratuitous information affording a sense of wealth, empowerment and satisfaction—an aestheticism rooted in “over-the-top”?

* Is the abundance of accessible information transforming the meaningful into ephemera causing a kind of significance blindness that mitigates our ability to identify the important over the throw-aways?

* Is the Google paradigm a prototype for learning environments in which we breathe our own air? Are we experiencing a sea change in our definition of “free-thought” making way for a kind of homogeny hegemony and inevitable mediocrity?

* And finally, can there be meaningful, pleasing and unique experience to be gained through customized explorations of off-the-rack information?

The gift my father gave me has become a trusted way of operating. I never became a musician, although some have commented on my capacity for memorizing songs. I did become a multi-media artist who has brought this skill to bear upon daily acts of empirical lyricism, providing a thick experience that can be both melodious and disturbing.

Leslie Alfin
339 8th Street
Jersey City, NJ 07302
201-486-2461  mobile