Closed Circuit (Who, What, Where, When, Why and How #2) is a new performative work by Rod Dickinson. It interrogates the historical form of the presidential speech and government press briefing. Set in a meticulously constructed press conference environment, two actors deliver a simulated press briefing.
The script of Closed Circuit (Who, What, Where, When, Why and How #2) was written in collaboration with writer Steve Rushton, and is composed solely of fragments of press statements and speeches delivered since the Cold War. The script focuses on the way in which similar declarations have been used by numerous governments – across continents and spanning the ideological divide – to declare and maintain states of crisis and justify acts of violence.
The press briefing is inexorably linked to the feedback circuitry of television. Just as the crisis is always in the present, the liveness of television calls the present forward. The press statement thus works as a feedback mechanism, which is carefully constructed for the template of television that disseminates it, and which in turn shapes political and social reality.The fragments are woven together irrespective of context and date – in fact the only change that Dickinson and Rushton have made to the original material is to remove any specific mention of people, places and dates. Consequently, the who, what, where, when, why and how are removed from the spoken text. However, their provenance is revealed via synced autocue text scrolling up large screens positioned on both sides of the audience. The visual and theatrical syntax of the political briefing alongside the repetition of rhetoric reproduces the logic that governs public life and media in general.
Rod Dickinson’s work explores ideas of belief and social control. Using detailed research into moments of the past and present, he has made a series of meticulously re-enacted events that represent both the mechanisms that enable belief, and the social systems that underpin much human behaviour. His previous works include a recreation of Stanley Milgram's infamous 1961 social psychology experiment Obedience to Authority (The Milgram Re-enactment, 2002), and a recreation of the media surrounding a bomb attack on Greenwich Observatory in 1894 (Greenwich Degree Zero, 2006).
Steve Rushton is a writer and editor based in Rotterdam. Rushton’s publications include Experience, Memory, Re-enactment, 2005 (co-editor); The Milgram Re-enactment, 2003 (editor). He writes essays and stories for artists’ publications and contributes regularly to DotDotDot. Recent projects include the exhibition After Neurath: Like Sailors on the Open Sea, Stroom, The Hague, 2006-07. He is a co-founder of the research group Signal: Noise, which investigates the prevalence of notions of feedback in contemporary culture.Albert Welling is a professional actor and has worked extensively in theatre, television and film for over 35 years. He has written several plays for BBC radio and was co-founder of BTC theatre company in his home town of Bedford in the UK.
William Neenan is a UK/US dual national who has worked in both countries. Having started his career with Stefan Schnabel's Rainbow Theatre in America, he now lives in London and works primarily in television and film, including two roles for director Mike Leigh.
Closed Circuit (Who, What, Where, When, Why and How #2)
Concept: Rod Dickinson in collaboration with Steve Rushton
Performed by: Albert Welling, William Neenan
Produced by Aksioma – Institute for Contemporary Art, Ljubljana
Co-produced by Zavod Bunker
Executive producer: Marcela Okretič and Janez Janša
Supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia and the City of Ljubljana.
Special thanks: Arts Council England, Smart Project Space
Aksioma - Institute for Contemporary Art, Ljubljana