Rosemary Heather: "Kelly Mark Always Working" Canadian Art, Winter 2007 (excerpt)


"Writing about the effects of mechanical reproduction more than 70 years ago, Walter Benjamin theorized that mass entertainment created a new form of reception: viewers of cinema absorbed film in a way that did not require their direct attention. Itself a kind of prophecy of the fusion of art with everyday life brought about by the advent of digital technologies, the capacity for distracted perception hypothesized by Benjamin would seem to have been multiplied tenfold in our current culture. Mark's epic work REM (2007) recreates this experience using TV as its source. Two hours in length, REM, which is compiled from more than 170 films and TV shows, creates a composite feature film from disparate clips Mark recorded from television. The work's narrative is coherent; by definition, film and television provide the building blocks of storytelling. As one watches the work, however, it soon becomes apparent that a semblance of coherence is all that is required; in REM, following the narrative is akin to the experience of being adrift in your own thoughts. The work is a parable for our culture - lost inside the figments of its own imagination. Like Mark's practice as a whole, it brings a syncretic intelligence to bear on cultural detritus, ultimately offering us the insight that our culture belongs to us. The subtle shift in thinking that is required to grasp this idea is the future of our culture - one that we are already living in today." - Rosemary Heather