Author: Jen Hutton

Publication: ARTFORUM

Press Date: 2011  See below for PDF version

ArtForum_JenHutton 2011 critics' picks.pdf

The primary component of Lindsay Seers’s installation Extramission 6 (Black Maria), 2009, is a profound
video that ruminates on memory and perception by means of the artist’s invented biography. Projected
inside a structure that resembles a tarpapered shack—a reconstruction of the original Black Maria, Thomas
Edison’s late-nineteenth-century film production studio—the video assembles the artist’s curious
self-mythology through interview clips, third-person narration, and archival material. Its core narrative tracks
Seers’s attempt to recoup her photographic memory—which she lost in her first encounter with speech—by
becoming a living camera, and it then follows her later transformation into a projector.

Extramission 6 thus marks the beginning of this implausible yet poetic shift, wherein as much as Seers
looks out at the world she is also looking inward. Couched in this biographical fantasy, Seers’s documented
methodologies of taking and making images are a means of overcoming the speculative traumas alluded to
in her video as well as the critical histories of her chosen disciplines. As one of her interview subjects
attests offscreen, the act of photography is passive and melancholic in its preservation of the past, while a
projector maintains an undeniable optimism by casting light forward and into the future—which for Seers is
an effective therapy.

Seers’s invocations of “extramission,” an early theory of sight proposed by Plato, and of the Black Maria are
perhaps ways for her to suggest that to understand technology and history we must embody it—just as we
sit inside her tarpapered shack. Or perhaps she is proposing that we wear it, too, as she does at the end of
the video. Perched on Seers’s head, a hat-cum–model of Edison’s studio lends a pedigree to her
investigations of the image and becomes a lens through which to see the world and herself.