Exploring several interconnected sociological theories regarding the processes and repercussions of societal production and reproduction, this work asks viewers to reflect on their own participation in creating the times in which we all live. Inspired by Angela Gmeinweser’s contained sound art piece Floor Sculpture from 2017, this work carefully utilizes form and function as tools of translation. The first form of significance is a physical manifestation of the black box theory, which asserts there exist some systems with inputs and outputs deprived of necessarily known or understood internal workings (Bunge 346). Here the system being addressed is society, the physical black box representing the processes society members are often largely incognizant of. The second form of significance is the periscope which functions as an intervention, allowing the otherwise hidden internal environment of society’s black box to be viewed through the physical and symbolic processes of reflection. Enticing viewers to exit habitual statuses, eerily discomforting humming, buzzing, whooshing, moaning, and swirling is audible from within the box, becoming loudest during engagement. While synthetic glossy black paint is utilized to hide the natural grain of the wooden material on the exterior of the box, the internal view reveals unfinished truth in color and texture beneath projected video. One word at a time, “Insert,” “Your,” “Social,” “Constructions,” “Here;” is presented in an antiquated and glitching manner, demanding deliberate viewer interjection, while encouraging critical thought in reflection upon any secondary projections contrived. Between each series of words, an old “Universal [AKA Television] Leader” countdown from three to one is inserted, providing space for anticipation and the leader’s reformulated function of “protection; identification; and, synchronisation…classification; instruction; framing; and, alignment” (Soar and Gallant). Intentionally worn in aesthetic, the projection embodies Herbert Blumer’s symbolic interactionist perspective on the age-old process of socialization, in which humans act from the assigned meanings gleaned from social interactions and construe understood and modified meanings (Corrigall-Brown 42). Herein, “social construction” projected over the natural wood grain is significant, as the term is defined by Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann as the social internalization of predefined surroundings, whereby “people categorize experiences” and act based on attained socializations, forgetting categorization sources and “seeing them as natural and unchanging,” (Corrigall-Brown 64). As such, the reproductivity of society’s positive and negative outcomes is emphasized by the recycled plywood, mirrors, and cardboard utilized in construction. In processes of gluing, painting, and tacking, as well as collective manufacturing, artifice in methods of attachment and appearances combine with social involvement to echo the addressed systemic structure of society. Finally, this work has been titled The Thomas Principle to illuminate the outcomes of social constructions which, when believed to be real, have genuine and oftentimes immensely harmful repercussions (Corrigall-Brown 142). Therefore, the final effect is to provide an opportunity to peek inside the black box that is society, allowing viewers to reflect on socially projected constructions that are assumed to be natural and ask how accepted roles might reproduce negative consequences for others or champion convenience over construction.
Bunge, Mario. “A General Black Box Theory.” Philosophy of Science, vol. 30, no. 4, 1963, pp. 346– 358. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/186066. Accessed 13 Mar. 2021.
Corrigall-Brown, Catherine. Imagining Sociology: an Introduction with Readings. Second ed., Oxford University Press, 2019.
Soar, Matt, and Jackie Gallant. “Four US Standards.” Lost Leaders: Countdowns and the Metadata of Film, 19 Mar. 2019, www.lostleaders.ca/standards.