Roshini Kempadoo

domino effects (2009)

Aka - traces of resistance

Entering the gallery space, characters in screen projections encourage gallery users to join them in playing a game of dominos – as laid out on the table in close proximity to the projection. As the domino players place tiles on the table, different characters appear on the screen, some acknowledging the players presence, others more concerned with telling the gallery users their story. They introduce us to a series of characters and events including the protagonists Venezuela and AON, who relate stories of resistance and survival, These stories are set in both the past - as subjects of the British colonies, from the 1930s to 1960s, and the present as post-independent citizens living in the Caribbean, East Africa, the UK and India.


betta0101.png - screen shot from prototype animation clip. (2008)

Building on a series of artworks exploring the absence of plantation workers in the colonial archives, and recent recordings and photography of contemporary Caribbean landscapes, what struck me was the lingering legacy of colonialism still visible/invisible in the everyday locations and culture.

The fictional stories created for domino effects, are of everyday experiences, outlooks, and attitudes from the past and the current post-independent nation states. It makes use of events and actions that bring about change to individual and collective situations. Their stories are about ingenuity and struggle. Their stories originate outside Europe but resonate in a way that is timeless and repetitive, set within the past and present. The artwork traces the way in which resistance and struggle can be associated with a history of colonization, and lives on today as an integral part of survival in the present. The characterisations and events involve the Caribbean, London, and North Africa.

The characters we are introduced to - and particularly the main protagonists - Venezuela and AON - are fictional, spiritual who have embedded within them a long and deep memory of past, present and future. As one of the main protagonists Venezuela is a mythical and enduring figure present in past, current and future narratives. Venezuela’s story begins from the articulation of anti-colonial struggles and global political unrest of the 1930s, bringing an international perspective to historical events and personal strategies of survival in places like the ‘barrack-yards’ in Port-of-Spain or exiles’ meeting places in London.

AON (still to be developed) is a character imbued with the present, post-independent experience. She/He explores evoke stories of struggle and protest that relate to present day locations - port cities and islands, that have emerged from a colonial experience - and rely on economies and politics involving main stream tourism, eco-tourism, and resources for European markets.

They transgress locations, temporalities, and cultural authenticity to learn from, and relate their stories in various ways. English, Hindi, Swahili, and English creole monologues and dialogues as documents read, poems, mythical tales, and futuristic fiction become a way of engaging the gallery users and evoking the stories . Some of the characters may have existed, others clearly are from imaginary dreamscapes – fictitious characters of carnival or semi-human mythical figures associated with stories of survival and the imagination.

Screen Technology: Domino Effects continues the use of montage and multiple media of sound, imagery, writing, music and voice seen in previous artworks such as Ghosting (2004) and endless prospects (2004). The animations become digital griots - we encounter dialogues, monologues, music, imagery that use layering, animation, and sampling, incorporating green-screen technology, Photoshop, After Effects and Flash software and programming. The video sequences will appear on a screen – either as a projection (using multiple screens and data projectors) or using LCD (multiple) screen technology and stereo speakers.
Interactive Technology: The prototype produced thus far has researched the use of RFID technology (similar to the UK London Transport Oyster Card technology), embedded into a customized set of domino tiles and custom-made table on which the dominos are played. It is expected that this technology will be used for the realization of domino effects.
The exhibition technical set-up and installation of the artwork is expected to be appropriate and mobile for installing for ISEA2009 in Dublin, and will be capable of being adjusted according to the technical resources available.