United States, 2016 | Brandon Bauer
Landscapes of Absence probes changes to our mediascapes with the advent of professional videography of executions by Daesh (aka ISIS or ISIL).
Since the executions take place where most journalists fear to tread, Daesh’s multilingual videos produced at the Al-Hayat Media Center and often released through social media serve as the sole evidence of what has taken place. Victims include Japanese, Israeli, and U.S. journalists, as well as twenty Egyptian Copts and a Chadian, allegedly in front of a green screen rather than an actual Libyan beach.
Appropriating still images from eight beheading videos, Landscapes of Absence erases human subjects, whose ghostlike traces blur the landscapes selected for the execution videos.
By erasing contemporary human presence — both executioners and victims — from the Deash videos, the resulting images somewhat ironically re-render landscapes into scenic views whose alleged absence of human intrusions so captivated the orientalists centuries ago.
More significantly, the images highlight through erasure how humans interface with landscapes — and how our presence might one day be corrected for the very survival of both nature and civilization.
Brandon Bauer is a Wisconsin-based artist, who uses art as a space for ethical inquiry, discourse, and dialogue. His work explores themes of social justice, democracy, war, and critical histories embedded in cultural ephemera. His work employs photography, video, collage, drawing, installation, and collaborative produced projects. Brandon’s work has been exhibited and screened nationally and internationally. Brandon is currently an Assistant Professor of Art at St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin.