Effecting a Split is a two-channel video installation wherein an isolated enactment of a scene from Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is paired with “The Transported Man,” a staged magic trick that requires two identical actors to perform the illusion. Taken together, the film portrays a rehearsal of the dissolution of subject. An actor repeats acts of self-negation as both Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde and as the magician, coming back to life over and over, as if replicating the psychoanalytic example of the Fort-Da game. In drinking the liquid, Dr. Jekyll attempts a self-negation, only to come back into being as Mr. Hyde. The magician, in contrast, inhabits two bodies, which perform an illusion while moving between the shadowy underside of the stage and the lit stage-top. In its form, the film ruptures a viewing experience via de-centering repetition and non-analogous takes, and ultimately reveals the viewer as the subject of the work. Effecting a Split requires a reflexive gaze onto a notion of the self, looking to psychoanalysis and cognitive sciences for schematics and language that reveal potentially dangerous coping mechanisms such as projection, splitting, and othering. The work aims to illuminate what is hidden behind a psychological blind spot, the kind that disallows sight of one’s own unconscious coping mechanisms.
Effecting a Split, 2018