Comedy and Tragedy
text by Eleanor Clare, 2014, published in NEVERODDOREVEN, Deuxpiece and Buro fur Problem, Basel
I was frantic, feeling a little sick and dizzy, but determined to carry on.
What had to be done, had to be done. It was a desperate attempt.
It was a hollow action.
It was just doing for the sake of doing.
It was doing to find some momentary release from the feeling of total inertia, of being stuck.
Now I must talk of hollow laughter.
Some say it is the laughter of a psychopath: cold, hard, unfeeling.
I say it is simply laughter at the end of the tether.
They say, if you don't laugh you'll cry.
I have been laughing this way.
I cry until I laugh, and laugh until I cry.
There is not much in between, but for an empty and desolate expanse stretching out ahead.
When I am laughing, I do not know if the laughter itself feels unreal, or if I myself am unreal.
It seems like I have been caught by something I cannot quite grasp.
I am in its grip: the grip of humour.
Watching myself on a screen, I make myself laugh, for I am hysterical.
Here I am comedy.
I laugh a senseless, reasonless laughter that has no meaning, other than to shake and move in a way that is ridiculous.
It is laughter in the extreme, because it cannot end until it reaches the opposite pole: tragedy.
"Emotions exist beyond time, as the pulse of pure physical connection to the world and its music.
Like music, they are a form of movement _ the origin of the word emotion lies in the Latin, emovere, to move out, remove, agitiate."
These objects were something like old fashioned projection screens, and something like gondolas; not of the Venetian type, rather the wheeled display stands used in retail (even though the wheels were rather too large to be seen on the shop floor - they were more reminiscent of something that could belong in a workshop - somehow 'masculine').
One was much taller than the other, on high legs. A square frame, glossy and blue, contained an LCD screen. The smaller one was painted in red gloss, and also held an LCD screen. The larger was somewhat mesmerizing as blue letters in italic capitals glided across the screen, spelling out 'TOTAL.' As I watched, I realised that the word seemed to glitch, to come apart - severed by a horizontal line through the middle; sometimes partially slipping from vision. TOTAL: this word as an entity, as a thing, as a visual object: I felt some pathos for it. It had fallen short, it was fading, it was uncertain. Words fail me...
Upon the screen of the smaller object, to the bottom right, almost slipping out, was the word SUPER in italic capitals. It was flashing - like brand names in lights at Piccadilly Circus, or how I would imagine it to be in Las Vegas. Yet once again there was a sense of pathos pertaining to the one who is desperate to be noticed, but just seen in the peripheral vision, at the edge, about to become obsolete.
Below the screens as I looked down, I noticed that the wires and connections at the back of the DVD player were left open, hanging out, and that surrounding the glossy blue frame was grey foam, cushioning the LCD screen and protecting it from damage. The Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors, Even. Or this time perhaps we may infer that the Bachelor himself has been disrobed, robbed, even. The edifice that would give this work a sense of sheeny, hermetic closure as an object has been cast to one side. It appears to be suspended - in a state of display in its most commercial aspect (as a product/object/work of art), and also in the sense that it has been left bare: in a state that could be either not quite complete or abandoned in the process of dismantling.
Laurie Edson writes about 'The Large Glass,'
'The verbal clues provided in the title suggest that we are witnessing the ongoing process of the stripping and all that goes with it, a dynamic situation has been 'caught in the act', temporarily frozen in glass and delayed (delay, of course, promises completion at some later time).
Duchamp uses techniques that function to delay the spectator's response, and this very delay (and the subsequent heightening of the spectator's desire to comprehend, to solve, to figure out, read) produces desire in the sense which Barthes has used the term.'
It seems that in Marsh's work too, there is the undeniable sense of delay, and to use Edson's terminology, of being 'caught in the act.' In the seductive promise of a shiny, glossy exterior, and in the promise of the words 'super' & 'total' the viewer seeks at once to understand what is missing - to understand why this object is left as it is, apparently undone, to know exactly what it is, or what it is for. I (the spectator) am caught between a state of mesmerized fascination with the brightly lit words on the LCD screen, a sensuous appreciation of the physical potential of the clean, glossy structure, and a feeling of frustration in terms of knowing: I cannot name this thing before me; I cannot define it. And as such, both the physical object and meaning are left un-ended.