Elyse Johnson

WatchDog, 2020

Video installation

February 27 - March 3, 2021

“Perhaps, for us, it is less a question of where the wild things are—we have names for those spaces, which we project inward or outward as the unconscious or the other—than of when the wild things appear. Potentially, that is right now, or whenever the symbolic order cracks under political pressure. This is not necessarily a psychotic moment, or even a romantic one; but a time of intense imagining, through the creaturely, of new social links.” – Hal Foster, What Comes After Farce?

WatchDog is a satirical Covidian anthology documenting the liminal collapse of events, narratives, and timelines in an increasingly post-truth era. Filmed in Belvedere, Illinois, WatchDog follows the story of a nanobot-infested werewolf living in perpetual quarantine while freely traversing dimensions through a powerful portal controlled by a collection of Time Magazines in the woods. Following suit with the paranoid stylings of contemporary pattern recognition, the werewolf is ruthlessly hunted by Jeff Bezos’ Dog, an artificially intelligent quadruped engineered by military technology producer Boston Dynamics. With this premium subscription to a hidden world, the protagonist exists in a fraught but flexible space between human and non-human as they are confronted by their own increasing crudeness in the face of artificial intelligence. Famed for the act of shapeshifting, they exist only in temporalities as we revisit our traditional notions of time with the understanding that they are more precarious than ever before. In a world somewhere between raw files and advertisement, the classics are obliterated and do not make it to the other side of the wormhole. Each Person of the Year is doubled, implying every other Person of the Year at once. As the veil thins between real and other, we are invited to embark on a journey of collective hallucination; a never-ending crescendo towards the epic.