Darren Rhymes, 'Craig Mulholland Grandes et Petites Machines' (The Skinny, 03/2008)
This is an epic undertaking installed in GSA and Sorcha Dallas Gallery, featuring sculpture, painting and video. The expansiveness of Mulholland’s production reflects the object of his enquiry, the growing realm of the digital zone; the ideological nexus of virtual space, the logic of which plays an increasingly real determining role within globalised society. Capitalism’s opening up and dominating of new markets has its virtual example in Paypal and Facebook’s ‘social utility sites. The physical one might be the Neo Con advocation of unique opportunities for expansion following natural or political disasters, as explored in Naomi Klein’s ‘Shock Doctrine’. Mulholland plays out this ideology of abstraction most staggeringly in his video Peer to Peer. It’s an operatic elegy enclosed in an engulfing digitised universe. The opening section pans around a digital outer space within which appears what seems like a space craft. The camera scrolls around the craft, and it is revealed as a record player. The stylus moves and the opera begins with a sense of grandeur straight out of 2001. What ensues is an unlocated and spaceless conflict between the voice of an omnipotent narrator, the camera, and a suggestion of resistance partly embodied by the figure of an ‘Operator’ – the individual that mans the system. Mostly performed in operatic verse, the Camera describes its perpetual surveillance, the Operator hi alienated and boring labour. The camera challenges this with a mantra of self-discipline. The Operator repeats it with fascistic verve, internalising the control of the Camera. The feeling that this is an abstracted and artificial whole that you are trapped within never leaves you. The only hope comes at its end, in a plea from within it: both Camera and Operator call out ‘refresh me’.