Jiří Žák

  • Czech Republic (b. 1989 in Zlín)
  • Currently in Prague.

Night of the Hunter

  • 2016
  • Video, Video Projection
  • 23 min, 45 sec

  • Theme of metaphorical video-essay Night of the Hunter is the consumption of information within a virtual environment and how it influences our political consciousness and activism."The same night is waiting for all of us."

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  • Img 3785small
  • Shattered Epistemologist  - thumbnail Neglect Syndrom Politics - thumbnail Night of the Hunter - thumbnail

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    World of Uncertainty: Night of the Hunter (2016), Shattered Epistemologist (2017) and Neglect Syndrom Politics (2017) | 2016 - 2017

This series of artworks is reflecting the consumption of information within a virtual environment and how it influences our political consciousness and activism and the notion of the internet as the 'place of struggle'. The figure in Night of the Hunter (2016) who declares at the end of the video that he works for no-one - is not a troll, but an anti-troll. He says: “The information I work with is not genuine either, at least not in the way you think. They are tiny models of information, kneaded from variously distributed lies or variously distributed truths.” As the video’s unseen protagonist walks through the abandoned interior of an office building that perhaps used to be a troll farm, he ontologically metamorphoses into a relatively autonomous, foreboding figure. He says: “I want to be St. Paul, to emancipate social networks.” Burdened by a Messiah complex, “he dehumanizes himself in his struggle for the truth and against people’s dehumanization online” – as Žák put it in his description of the video. In video’s script, Žák “secretly” rejects this ambivalence, this intertwining of truth and lies, when at one point he recalls Bateson’s definition of information as a difference that makes a difference. Night of the Hunter mixes the notion of an information war that paralyzes the individual’s ability to act with the real war in the Middle East, in Syria, as represented by moving and manipulated images steamrolling over one another, blending together, blurry, twisted, and distorted. The constantly receding images recall elastically curved monitors and force us to absorb the entropy of the digital image, data subject to the loss of memory. The work The Shattered Epistemologist (2017) in many ways continues in the line of thought explored by the protagonist of Night of the Hunter. It might even be the same person, although The Shattered Epistemologist is not a monologue but a dialogue. In The Shattered Epistemologist, Žák collaborates with the charismatic Berlin-based German-Beninese dancer Meïmouna Coffi. Working with a script by Žák, Coff has created an improvised dance choreography based, among other things, on the physical gestures we use when we operate digital equipment. The video – a collage of dance sequences and blurry, abstract footage – is a visual-poetic metaphor, an artistic incarnation of a vital and universally shared idea. But one thing that never changes in Žák’s videos, old as well as new, is his use of subjective verbal and text-based commentary consisting of citations and metaphors that place the fictitious situations within a real and specific context. With its many citations, The Shattered Epistemologist refers to the current debate surrounding “post-truth,” a term whose usage increased by more than 2000% last year, earning it the title of Oxford Dictionary’s 2016 Word of the Year. Although this purposeful relativization and manipulation of facts has existed, especially in the realm of politics, for several decades (and in some ways, forever), the recent spread of the internet and social networks has made it an increasingly more noticeable trend. At the same time, the subjectivization of media sources has made it easier to take advantage of their emotional potential.