Sep 07 - Sep 07
by Brady Welch
Southern Exposure rang in their Fall events calendar on September 7 with a deceivingly de-skilled bang by the musical-cum-video art duo Extreme Animals. Punishing, borderline puerile, aesthetically off-putting, mercifully and thought-provokingly hilarious, Jacob Ciocci and David Wightman are the kind of wild-eyed long-hairs you might mistake for math teachers, golden-era metal heads, or both. Wightman, a PhD candidate in music composition at UCSD, played guitar, while Ciocci, one third of the collective, Paper Rad, manipulated “found” video art in a manic collage mash-up. The pace of Extreme Animals' work can be rather swift, but recurring motifs tend to be sourced from or inspired by outdated cartoons, late-night infomercials, monsters, aliens, 2-bit goo, 1980s heavy metal, Miley Cyrus, and, in one piece at least, little Carol Anne from Poltergeist. Funny though this kind of stuff can be, I can't help but find it a bit misanthropic, taking the saddest of society's pop culture detritus, distilling it down, and chucking it right back at the viewer's face as if to say, “laugh now, wince later.” This must be at least part of the point though. Ciocci, in a sort of pre-performance lecture on the state of the world in 2010, showed the audience some of the most asinine videos he found on YouTube, with Canadian tween sensation Justin Bieber an exceptional source of fascination, hilarity, and dread.
It's a particular combination of sensations that also suggest what Extreme Animals are ultimately up to. The modern world can be a frightening deluge of images and commands, and if you have half a mind, that can be a depressing thing. So why not turn all that jumbled garbage on it's head, and make it even more insane? It might even be funny. Laughter is better than sadness, a kind of small victory that Extreme Animals are in the market of producing.