Benjamin Funke's Relapsed reviewed in CultureFront

Author: CultureFront

ITP Space opens Friday, February 1 at 7 PM with their first exhibit, a show by Indiana-based artist Benjamin Funke entitled Relapsed. ITP Space is located at 130 S. Jackson Street.

Fair warning: from my brief foray into the works of Benjamin Funke, this is not easy stuff. He appears to relish dissonance and obtuse meaning. He deliberately works with distortion and manipulation, crushing boundaries between genres. Inspired by a punk ethos, Funke appears committed to preventing his work from being accessible, per se.

About his video “KILL YR. IDOLS,” Funke writes, “[Kurt] Cobain’s suicide marked the end of an era in grunge music. In retrospect, this event came to signal the melding of punk music with the commercial mainstream. During Cobain’s life he often vocalized his criticisms of the corporate music industry. His disdain was aimed at major record labels, commercial radio stations and MTV® — all corporate structures that he was very much a part of. However, once Cobain signed over the rights to his music to the David Geffen Company in 1991 his control over his music began slipping away. His independent punk ideology had been supplanted by major corporations’ profit models, and there was little he could do about it. My David Geffen Videos alter and distort the complete series of Nirvana music videos produced during the band’s final years, during the period of its Geffen contract. I altered these original videos by using a practice called “data bending,” which means the manipulation of a digital file’s source code (the zeros and ones). When this code is selectively altered, the video becomes severely damaged, and the results can be almost unrecognizable. The new data-bent imagery recalls hallucinatory images produced in the mental state known as hypnogogia, characteristic of the state in between alertness and sleep. When altering these videos I deliberately evoked this state to parallel the limbo moments Cobain must have experienced in the transitional space between life and death, when he had no control of what was going on around him. The videos are silent in order to reference the loss of Cobain’s independent voice during the period of the Geffen contract. ”

In addition to video, Funke will exhibit inkjet prints on vinyl, like “99.”


In this piece, Funke applies his “databending” technique to alter the digital code that identifies the original work… which is a copy of Andreas Gursky’s notable photograph, “99 Cent.”


I’m excited to see this work on vinyl. Reading about it made me wonder if there are similarities with Wade Guyton, who recently exhibited at The Whitney. I may be off base here but both are playing with digital technologies to interfere with pop images and culture.

Check it out Friday and leave your comments here.


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