Art in pursuit of big answers

South Kiosk x Where to Now present Teleonomy
Café OTO, Dalston
February 19, 2016
Kit used: 
9 Barco CRT Screens and video wall processor.

‘The Rites of The Zeitgeber’ 2016 by Verity Birt

The term ‘teleonomy’ defines a “quality of apparent purposefulness and of goal-directedness of structures and functions in living organisms brought about by natural laws.” Drill down into this a bit what you find is a commentary on the development of species. In a world of people taking selfies with hijackers and twerking on moving trains, there has never been a better time to discuss our development as a species, and our comprehension of the world we live in. It’s a big question, and one of the best ways to explore a subject like this is to make it a subject of art.

Soundtracked by musician “U”, Verity Birt’s piece from the event was ‘The Rites of the Zeitgeber.’ Using time and it’s passing as a focus, Birt composed a multiscreen film of found footage and narrative text to create a synchronised piece that explored time, its ephemeral nature, and our understanding of its passing in relation to ourselves. Part of the score includes the line “already it has come, and it is leaving,” which seems particularly pertinent in a time when media consumption is at it’s highest, and our attention spans average at 7 seconds. Whilst I can’t imagine how it was conceived, I know it was well enough received to merit a place on Big Screen Southend in association with Focal Point Gallery.

South Kiosk X Where to Now present ‘Teleonomy’ at Cafe Oto

With time in mind, the piece leads me to wonder about the relationship that exists between time spent creating a piece, and the time we and our dwindling attention spans commit to enjoying it. Even if you only watched half of Verity Birt’s piece, thinking about it for days afterwards still denotes an appreciation of the subject. Similarly, staring at a portrait for five minutes because you feel like you’re meant to could mean you’re missing the point. Going back to the ‘apparent purposefulness’ that Teleonomy refers to, the time we commit to art, whether it’s creative process or it’s appreciation, can only develop if people keep asking questions. Be this in small exhibitions like Teleonomy, or big galleries like The Baltic, this system of information and development relies on willing participation. So swap the selfie for a CRT screen, or put down SnapChat and pick up a pen, because we all have big questions we want answers too.


To see more of Verity’s work, or witness ‘The Rites of The Zeitgeber’ from the comfort of your own home, visit veritybirt.co.uk.

If you’ve got some big questions of your own that only some top-notch kit will help answer, then head over to KitMapper and start asking.

The equipment used in this event included the nine-screen Barco Video Wall Bundle, available on KitMapper.

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