Naming Things (2015-2016)

single channel HD video, stereo 2-channel audio; looping installation or single screening, 24 minutes

In Jorge Luis Borges' essay "The Analytical Language of John Wilkins" there is a passage where he recalls

'...a certain Chinese encyclopedia entitled The Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge. In its pages it is written that animals can be divided into: (A) those belonging to the Emperor, (B) those that are embalmed, (C) those that are tame, (D) pigs, (E) sirens, (F) imaginary animals, (G) wild dogs, (H) those included in this classification, (I) those that move as if crazed, (J) those that are uncountable, (K) those painted with the finest brush made of camel hair, (L) miscellaneous, (M) those which have just broken a vase, and (N) those which, from a distance, look like flies.'

By blurring the line between fact (John Wilkins was a genuine historical figure) and fiction (the non-existent Chinese encyclopedia) Borges subverts our confidence in the infallibility of mankind's efforts to make sense of the world. This passage was the inspiration for Michel Foucault's book, "The Order of Things". Similarly inspired, our work's sometimes playful appearance aims to destabilize the misplaced assumption of a coherent underlying logic in how we taxonomize the world around us. As one of the Borgesian tactics that Naming Things emulates, existing fauna are juxtaposed with invented organisms into a fictitious taxonomy whose credibility invites interrogation of how culturally specific systems of categorization and knowledge are imposed and perpetuated.

excerpt on Vimeo (on right): Dining Tsars