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Guy BrettClick here to Print this Page
Tina Keane
If Faded Wallpaper worked at the leading edge of the imagistic technology of its day, Couch (1998-2001) does the same for the computer age, with an affectionate backward glance to an innovator of the 1960s.

Andy Warhol's Couch (1964), occupied by regulars and visitors to his Factory and shot on three-minute 16 mm reels, was a transformation of the proprieties of the sitting-room or the TV chat-show; Keane offers a further expansion. Her couch is set up in an empty space for one to three days for people to sit on and meet, or not, as they wish, and is linked up to the internet with a DV camera. Anyone accessing the website can see the couch and make contact with its occupants through sound or typed messages projected on the wall. Between 1998 and 2001 Couch was set up in five cities, New York, London, Wroclaw, Geneva and São Paulo, and subtle variations were made in the modes of interaction. A web user, for example, could have a live dialogue with a person's image, which had been picked up by a camera and placed on a projected virtual couch, next to the projected image of the host for that event!

"Technology deconstructs and reconstructs our identities in an almost metaphysical way", the artist has written. Artists have always been fascinated by the ambiguities between the solid and the transparent, the real and the illusory, truth and deception, especially by the fact that these pairs are not the absolutes or opposites they appear to be. Today we have entered a new period of uncertainty between real and virtual worlds, with implications that are both exciting and terrifying. Tina Keane has worked the technological media to explore a new understanding of identity.

Investigating the construct of a female self, she has moved from the 'Shadow Woman' of early work, through the 'strong woman' of works like Neon Diver, In Our Hands, Greenham (1984), or Circus Troupe (1990), which have a collective character, to the performed male-female fusions, hybrids and ambiguities of recent pieces like Deviant Beauty (1996) or The Making of Dandy Dust (2001). Throughout all this she has maintained her essentially playful approach to technology (implicit in the 'childhood' works), which continues to delight in the indescribable quality of light emitted by the cathode ray, neon tube, laser and projector.

Guy Brett
Guy Brett is a writer and freelance curator based in London.
Postcard for the Couch project between London and Poland, 1999
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