Nobody readable

2005, overalls, film, performance – Changchun (China), New York, Cleveland (USA).

Jiří Černický and Pavel Mrkus

Video – project
Nobody Readable is a project which is set into the context of conceptual video in art. The sequence of images creates a timespace over a few minutes, in which a stream of subtle events starts taking place, beginning with the intimate dimension of a detail, growing into a human figure and a city landscape and finally developing into matters of global context. The paradigma of a city landscape brimming with advertisements, corporate logos and business labels subconsciously and aggressively worms its way into the inner worlds of a human being. Human thoughts and actions are discreetly manipulated and devoured and omnipresent globalised labels are absorbed into the body, changing its personality. Man thins and spreads out through his absorption of the thinness of these symbols, while concentrating on their demands at the same time. His mind is filled, data is recorded, and as the individuality of man is disposed of, he becomes an electronic recorder, a digital server. In the end, his disk is completely covered in data and he is spread out in their visualised form.

New York – the general symbol of the concentration of the globalised world. The plot starts in the suburbs and gradually moves into busier and busier streets until it reaches a climax on Times Square.

Nobody – the main character, a man of unknown age, ordinary but light-colored clothing
Others – random passers-by.

As Nobody walks through the streets of the city, leaving the suburbs for the centre, he gradually begins to notice several changes in himself. The signs that flash on the surrounding advertisements seem to appear on his body as well. As the tension gradually hightens, Nobody becomes at loss as to what to do. He panics, flees, then finally accepts his situation. It is on Times Square where he realizes that there is no way out and gives in completely. The signs that appear on his body disappear from their former places, leaving them vacant, large displays turn themselves off.

The natural sounds of the city, contemporary music in headphones at the beginning of the film.

1. The suburbs of Manhattan. Nobody is walking along the street, listening to music in his headphones. Occasionally, a sign behind him disappears. Upon passing another person, the sign on their T-shirt disappears as well and appears on Nobody’s back. At this stage, Nobody notices nothing.

2. A long street. A wide, perspective view into a long street with a corner. As Nobody passes by, writing disappears from signs and the windows of shops. Even the name of the street disappears.

3. Meeting a truck. Nobody walks behind a truck and the sign from its side disappears, manifesting itself on Nobody’s T-shirt.

4. Buzzers. Nobody is about to ring the buzzer of a house his friend lives in. Detail – the moment he touches the buzzer, the letters move onto his finger. At first it frightens him, then he becomes surprised. Other names from the buzzers transfer to his palm and he notices the signs that had appeared on his T-shirt.

5. The escape. Nobody looks around the street and realizes that all the signs have disappeared. He is perplexed and crashes into a dustbin. The sign from the bin transfers to him and Nobody flees.

6. Mobile phone. On his run, Nobody notices signs disappearing from behind him. It frightens him and he tries to use his mobile phone to call help. Detail – as he dials, the numbers on the phone buttons disappear, as do the names from the address book.

7. Thinking. Nobody slows down and walks towards the centre of the city. He starts observing what is happening to him and experiments, trying to get used to the new situation. He touches signs and allows them to disappear on purpose.

8. A mall. Nobody enters a mall and exits a moment later covered in signs, as if wearing overalls. His passage causes a ruckus in the mall.

9. Times Square, evening. Nobody walks on and the signs on his skin and clothing become alive with electric light. They blink, scroll, etc. The closer he comes to the square, the more active the signs become, and in the end he sits down in the middle of the area, his body a colorful, glowing mosaic of the advertisements and signs he had managed to absorb so far. Gradually, Nobody begins to pull all the signs and displays from the facades of the surrounding buildings towards himself. The square gradually darkens and Nobody shines brighter and brighter. In the end, the only thing that can be seen is a glowing Nobody in an empty, dark space.

Nobody Readable, 2005, sequence from a film, Time Square, New York

Nobody Readable, 2005, performance, Changchun, China

During the consecration of a Buddhist temple in Changchun I was sitting in the lotus position in front of the main altar of the temple. According to the prescribed position, in my hands resting on my belly chakra I held a small screen of a mobile phone, which contained the information and advertising system of the city of Changchun. The imaginary mental energy of a performer merged here with a planetary satellite network.