Tanner Teale’s Performative Documentations

Tanner Teale’s work uses every day materials to investigate the difference between performance and documentation. With each of his studies, Teale obsessively creates a kind-of “living” still-life that is full of tension and mystery. His most recent piece titled “Hair Dryer Knife Balloon” (pictured above) makes it clear that each of Teale’s portraits are comprised of a series of components that are completely reliant upon each other (like a formula or a recipe) in order to make the portrait as a whole work. Think of it this way: if that fan gets unplugged, the balloon will definitely pop.

I like to think of Teale’s work as an upgrade to classic mystery-radio shows that kids would listen to in the early 20th Century. Lots of different pieces of information are presented, but the big-picture only comes into fruition when the individual listener, or in this case spectator, is able to connect the dots.

Arguably, a driving question in Teale’s work might be: At what point does a performance become a documentation? “Live” used to have a lot of meaning and value, but with the rise of mediated technologies like twitter, it is getting harder and harder to tell if “real-time” still holds any relevance. Just this weekend, Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast. From my office in Los Angeles, I kept close track of my various social media accounts, and in doing so I was transported from the comfort of my own desk to a scene of turmoil. It felt live, because in a sense it was, but then I realized that within a fraction of a second all of that information became immortalized by the internet as it fell further and further down my news stream. So maybe the internet isn’t “live.” Instead, it is just bunch of still-shots of things that used to be live. See, this is why I like Tanner’s stuff. It gets me thinkin’.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/susan.m.novak.9 Susan Melcher Novak

    he gets me thinking too…. Love, Mom