Zachary Formwalt is an artist and filmmaker. He is interested in how the media of representation—such as films or photography—function, taking into consideration that it is impossible to truly represent abstract capital despite the profound impact capitalism has on our lives. Ob/Scene Festival will present three of his works this year, each visiting a series of contemporary sites. These works examine the accumulation of capital in parallel with the development of photography and explore the problems capital poses for aesthetic experience.
A new creation An Industry, and Its Irreplaceable Medium, traces history of a medium that industrial capitalism tends to abstract and summons the hidden origin. What lies hidden at the origin of the moving image is the body of a dead animal. For analogue film is held together by gelatin, derived from the bodies of slaughtered cows. So whenever we look at film, we are effectively looking at an animal we are structurally exempt from seeing, since it constitutes the very medium in which the images themselves are suspended. By directing our attention to this blind spot, Formwalt simultaneously directs our attention to the blind spot of the meat industry, and finally capitalism at large, a system that persistently hides the industrial products and processes that remain at its base. If animal remains are found at the origin of film, they are equally there at the beginning of capitalist mass production: the very same slaughterhouses where cows were disassembled to become the bonding material of film, inspired Henry Ford to invent the automobile assembly line.
Along with the new work, In Place of Capital and In Light of the Arc will be introduced.
An Industry, and Its Irreplaceable Medium
This project has been generously supported by The University of Chicago’s Richard, Mary L. Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry, and Ob/Scene Festival with additional funding from the Mondrian Fund.
In Place of Capital
This work was generously supported by Kunsthalle Basel and the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten.
In Light of the Arc
This work was originally produced for the steirischer herbst with support from the Mondriaan Fund.