Dead Tired

Symptoms of Information Overload

Grosse Fatigue (Dead Tired), Camille Henrot, 2013, video, 13 minutes, Silex Film and Galerie Kamel Mennour, Paris

The digital age is one of endless connectivity and communication. We now exist, for better or worse, in a time that facilitates an intensive and accelerated consumption of data and information. In a conventionally utopian view of the world, humanity seems to have created a modern democracy, a digital landscape where residents are able to voice their ideas, find new information, and engage in discussion and critique. However, the data smog of the twenty-first century, in harmony with our absolute digital immersion, has not been without its real-life symptoms. Information overload - a term coined by Alvin Toffler in 1970 - is the biggest discomfort of our digital age. It is thought to have enflamed an ‘information anxiety’ of sorts, making individuals feel powerless and disorientated in a world where the limitless accessibility to information can be snaring, as opposed to liberating. From the titans of social media to the peasantry of personal blogs, the information can be demanding, drowning our senses and cutting us off from this mortal coil.

Camille Henrot’s 2013 artwork Grosse Fatigue (Dead Tired) is a profound articulation of humanity’s digital submersion. The artist invites alienation and fragmentation, questioning our own development as internet users. The backbone of the video installation is a spoken-word poem, whilst the visual basis of the artwork is an endless series of filmic shots that reveal the relics hidden inside Washington DC’s Smithsonian Museum, interspersed with images lifted from the web. A parade of screens introduces, among other things, a pickled fish skeleton, an X-ray of a seahorse, a drawer of lifeless Toucans, a male torso showering, a woman masturbating, and the viral video of Darwin, the lost Ikea monkey of 2012. Insects and shells are picked apart by a pair of beautifully manicured hands, which move on to finger a pair of ethnographic textbooks allowing us a glimpse of early twentieth-century photographs of an Orientalist Africa’s indigenous people. More pinpointed shots reveal these same hands at play; rotating an orange, rolling marbles, marking ink on paper - the tactile is central. A