M E R C ( I / Y )
make/unmake us a body
'you hit it with the paintball, and now it’s your responsibility’

Single-channel video, Duration 3'47"
Sound sourced from defibrillators

May 2020

Stemmed from observations of playground moral relativistic scenarios (e.g. whether to end with a rock the misery of a half-alive pigeon that you accidentally shot with the paintball or to walk away, letting it be in pain and starve to death), the work is a (re)consideration of different forces at play in the face of moral dilemmas concerning life. There is something in challenging a human/nonhuman body and pushing it to its limit; provocation and the degree of moral justification are laid bare. It considers the just and unjust nature of an action, especially of those deeply bodily oriented processes, and the semantics of such questioning. 

The piece aims to reflect on how ethics and morality are used in the regulation of bodies other than ourselves, how such regulation is founded on anthropocentric reasoning — as ethics by its nature could be seen as a set of humanly constructed principles — and the artist’s complicity through the performative portrayal of such action. Since food in the form of processed meat is used in analogy as a signifier/euphemism/dysphemism for the subjected body for ethical reasons during the production (but does it make it more ‘ethical’?), the action subsequently ends up affecting / being a part of the cycle of consumption built on the sacrifice of other(ed) bodies (Is it more ‘ethical’ to break such cycles or to complete them?). Ice is sourced for its amorphous quality, ubiquity, malleability, and its transition of states (from liquid to solid) as a requisite for its weaponisation. Seeing that ice is unsuspected and 'invisible' (between transparent and translucent), and yet a lethal, untraceable weapon, this references and gives new meaning to the notion of ‘be like water’ in the rhetorics of duelling, martial arts, and liquidation (in terms of both killing and business assets, often used as exit strategies— exiting the present, the [corporate] body, etc.). 
To a certain extent, procedural bodily oriented processes by their symbolic function are not just ‘used/abused’ in closed wards, but exists outside the much perused context of medical institutions as well in the more subtle, ubiquitous forms of state/publicly-sanctioned brutality. In such ways, the work parallels the futility of bodies, the resistance against, and the defence of them on the larger scale, revealing and integrating with its Sisyphean cycle. It questions how to define mercy in the circumstances of ending someone/something else’s suffering that we have no inner understanding of, and how to generate a system for measuring something affective and intangible like the degree of suffering to enable such rationalisations. 
How do we resuscitate bodies in perpetual open season?
© Vyvyan y. L. | 2022