The Wire

As a college student, I am constantly searching for ways to challenge myself – to be stressed, to be under pressure, to be busy, to happily worry.  A masochistic need to bring about the upmost potential for failure and lift myself so high that, if I were to fall, it would be the most gruesome of deaths. (But not actual death, because I very much enjoy living.)  The whole concept of “living on edge”, “pushing the limits” characterizes the world we see idealized on the television or on the movie screens. We like being faced with situations of right or wrong, go or stop, survive or explode. It’s like those high-stress scenes in action movies, where the hero has to choose between cutting either the red or green wire. You’re clinging on the edge of your seat, hoping that he or she is going to make the right choice and not wipe out the entire New York City population in one wrong move. The sweat drips, the formulaic chords are being played by the violin in the background, and the audience is yelling, “CHOOSE RED! IT’S RED. IT’S RED. RED!!!!!!!”


But why do we crave this possibility of failure? In the movies, we know that the hero is going to end up with the family. That the city is going to make it through and rebuild after the disaster. That the bad guys are going to die. That there will be a guaranteed solution. We crave the sensation of being in the face of our greatest downfall, but we also crave the reassurance that it isn’t going to just end there.

Our society lives in a world that , in the words of Kim Stringfellow, is “ecologically challenged”. A phrase that opposes the supposed advanced intellectual status of our Internet-powered human brains. We continuously face environmental challenges and talk about the difficulties of living in a diminishing climate, yet these are the things that we bring about ourselves. It’s the bomb that we hide in the trunk of the car, but we don’t actually know which wire is going to detonate it. In the case of her Salton Sea installation and the film, Food Inc., we see the world that we’ve built ourselves. Well, rather, torn down ourselves. We’re consistently being alerted and notified of the incoming danger but we choose to turn off the television screen because we believe that the hero is gonna cut the right wire. But why do we bring about challenges that we don’t put in the effort to fix ourselves? No one wants to be the hero to cut the wire, because they’d rather be the ignorant townsperson who has no clue what’s going on.

These media objects are presented in order to place the bomb in front of us and hand us the cutter. They let us know that we have the option of choosing wire A or wire B. They scream at us to say, “Hey, be the hero – do something.” Yet we refuse to care. So the bomb keeps ticking and we keep watching it.

~ by Isabella M. Reyes on October 16, 2014.

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