A narrative filled with bizarre anecdotes and filthy jokes, homespun proverbs and strange social analysis, Towards a Common Understanding investigates the culture of media saturation which confronts the contemporary attention span at every turn.
Using photo imagery downloaded straight off the internet and feeding it back to the viewer with a dispassionate narrator’s commentary, the piece uses a slide show format with virtually no moving images at all, blending a number of disparate worlds in an oddly unsettling way – the off-color stand-up comedy routine, the corporate Powerpoint presentation, the family vacation slide show, the ramblings of a madman, the dreaded school lecture. The narrator wallows in the grey area of copyright violation, recontextualizing stolen images to reflect some of the many failures of modern consumer capitalism – greed, perversity, violence, ignorance, obscenity, and above all, indifference. Not to mention obesity.
Is the way we impose patterns and structures onto the universe rooted in anything solid, or merely a random contrivance? Did the caveman know the correct name for those big hairy animals running around? Or is the right name really in Latin? And is there any way, ultimately, for different cultures to relate to each other, or is the striving towards a common understanding merely the doomed activity of fools?
It depends on who you ask, I suppose.