Mediamatic Magazine Vol. 1#4 Simon Biggs, Peter Boyd Maclean 1 Apr 1987

Oedipus Rex, The duvet Bros. and Television

THE DUVET BROTHERS (PETER BOYD MACLEAN and RICK LANDER) are well known members of the English scratch video scene. Apart from their 'art' they also incidentally do productions for Channel Four television in England and music clips. In April they showed a video installation at the KIJKHUIS in The Hague.

SIMON BIGGS and PETER BOYD MACLEAN demonstrate different approaches to this work.


S.Biggs -

The inspiration for THE DUVET BROTHERS' live multi screen installation was generated from years of making potato prints on canvas and paper. Out of this grew the idea that the images could be more interesting if they moved around and cross related within a fixed space. The idea that a potato was essentially a consumer product and in it's natural state was raw, and a potato print was a by-product of the raw form, fused itself in the minds of the creators. Why couldn't a byproduct be made out of the stream of images and generally mindless viewing fodder that relentlessly clutters our screens, filling us up with episodes of Dallas and crazy Eddies and MTV interspersed with occasional bursts of 'reality' in the form of news (and 'documentary') which is usually some horrific disaster or war or paranoic build up to Armageddon, followed by Princess DI gets a new dress. We sit consuming all this stuff without even realizing that the hours have gone by and we have lost the art of conversation. People may say turn it off if you don't like it but it is very difficult, talk about opium for the masses or what!

Anyway we managed to wean ourselves off the TV by making potato prints while watching soap operas. It's a bit like the guy in Close Encounters who thinks he's onto something and starts filling his sitting room up with mounds of dirt. I mean all this information goes in so it must come out, it's a natural process (I'm not saying our work is shit, it doesn't smell for a start).

By Peter Boyd Maclean

Post-modernism's signature is its non-dialectical, ultimately anarchic, relationship with experience - the problematisation of the historicising process, the will to know. Central to the development of such a mentality is television and similar electro-media. Television, however, is undoubtedly the force at the center. As such, it represents a manifestation of a mass subconscious (an anarchic subconscious) with which we all share a symbiotic relationship. Without the arrival of the television medium (in which we are suspended, flickering frames like insects in amber) the world would be a very different place. Would that which is called post-modernism have come to be?

Steven Spielberg

Unlike other media - the book, painting, the theater - television is total (and totalising). By its very nature its relationship with perceived reality is not deconstructive, it is unable to critique or to operate in opposition to anything. Its totality is holistic. Television is pre-deconstructed for it is not a view of reality but reality unto itself. It is that to which all artists aspire.

Can the viewer approach television in any other manner than consumer (the distinction between passive and intelligent or critical viewer being redundant at this point)?

To follow DERRIDA's argument, the reader (viewer) - in the process of reading and thus appropriating the text - is also the author (producer). THE DUVET BROTHERS as quintessential television viewers, simulate the process of appropriation natural to all viewers. They are of the television generation (the progenity of the post-modern) and do not, in their anarchic re-readings of our televisual experience, intend so much a critique of its structure(s) and subject(s) but rather an exposition of their own mentality as viewers. To state their personality relative to television by editing broadcast life into a form that agrees with their personal vision.

If television, the television eye (the organ of our cultural psyche), constitutes a mass-subconscious then THE DUVET BROS. have relative to it the traditional artist/society role. They appear to live out the role of artist as iconoclast rather than the constructor of meaning. The Duvet Bros. would prefer to entertain or disturb us with their vision of an exploding world than attempt to fix it under a critical gaze.

In an essentially Oedipal relationship with that which is often seen as our teacher (television), but is more likely our mother, we seek an expression of our identity, our power. In our attempts at re-reading, our scratching, we wish to place ourselves relative to our genesis and experience.'

Steven Spielberg

However, perhaps innately, we have all deconstructed the critical/consumer eye. THE DUVET BROTHERS display the fragmentation of experience, the difficulty encountered in constructing meaning in the Promethean act of self identification. Rather than adopt a critical, analytical or deconstructive position they shift ground continuously, problematising an essentially fluid equation. THE DUVET BROTHERS (with scratch, and what comes after it) are the exponents of participation in a televisual, information world.

By Simon Biggs

If you'd like to quote something: Biggs, Simon and Peter Boyd Maclean. "Oedipus Rex, The Duvet Bros. and Television." Mediamatic Magazine vol. 1 # 4 (1987).