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The Anesthesia Quartet

2018 | John Sanborn

4 video and sound installations of 4 channels each


I don’t want to put it into words. I don’t want to talk about “meaning” or intention or exemplification. I just want to state how it feels to be alive  - right now. Nothing seems to matter anymore. We live on the brink of detachment and insignificance fashioned by a chattering world whose noise level has reached an intolerable roar. 


All the grand narratives have collapsed resulting in billions of competing, vehement subjectivities- all fragmented and adrift. So, how does a 3-pound lump of dendrites, axons and sodium channels create a loving, sorrowing, self-knowing self? How do we survive and find joy enough to continue living each outrageous day?


We fashion a daily reality of our own making, as ambiguous as transactions in a foreign currency, and as real as a slap in the face. Our genius for storytelling and manifestation exceeds understanding and stretches beyond consequence as our techniques for self-representation mutate. Then something immaterial is added – fate, love, divinity – and the magic trick of consciousness is complete.


(nu décrivant un escalier)

14:16 (loop)


As we drift away from our innate connection to nature, putting our faith in robots and a “post-human” future, one wonders how we will find salvation on short notice. A tree planted 20 years ago, will today be taller than any being that planted it, and will eventually survive every single soul.


This work proves there is hope in a alliance of body and landscape. It embraces getting lost in the minimalism of being alive as exemplified by a palindrome of gesture. Redemption is just a few keystrokes away - starting with an imprint of duality followed by tracing the ritual of human repetition.


As we listen to music, the brain allocates resources usually taken up by basic sensory processes to strengthen connectivity in other networks that are responsible for emotion processing and integration of information.


When we watch a body in motion, we respect the laws of gravity as we connect with our base instincts of fight or flight. What we think and what we feel are fused by the singularity of gesture.


(le langage du corps)

12:27 (loop)


The body holds the secrets of nature, wordlessly honoring a collection of outtakes and side steps. Our DNA includes hard-wired functions – survival and evolution, but also a desire to party our way to self-awareness. 


We cook our food to enjoy eating. 

We listen to music to liberate our minds. 

And we dance to be freed from gravity while reminded of our inevitable decline.

Fragility and depletion on the edge of sorrow evaporates with mirrored gestures.


Discorporate events lead to a release from the prison of existence and delete the screen between thought and impulse. Hope materializes in the form of female grace, to the concave and convex as we attempt to jump outside our own shadows. We are no longer insistent on finding a source, a point of origin. Instead we give in to a longing to belong, as ghosts fuse past and present together.


Personal (“I don’t dance”) and universal (“move your ass”) unify as we recognize ourselves in the shapes of others. Long before we had doubts, we had souls that could find peace without being judged.


(nous nous cachons)

7:03 (loop)


We are powerless to see the whole picture. In a world post-truth where facts are a matter of opinion, this both repels and fascinates us. What’s hidden and what is revealed are our contemporaneous obsessions.So we live double lives, embracing the rich conflicted-ness of things, searching for meaning in those everyday effects – while collecting information by which we imagine we can fashion an equation for closure.


Secrets are the teasing wonder of the veiled soul. Not every secret is meant to remain concealed, but holding on to part of the story is essential to sanity. It turns out that what we imagine is often more powerful than what we know, as we let the conscious mind throw away ideas before they have evolved into something more powerful. 


Art is about trying to subsume thought and calculation into the interior of, say, a love story or a tale of triumph and failure. 


Life is an artfully chaotic assemblage of rampant speculation, distorted texts, parodies, sly poses, political tracts and rude jokes. Neither state is complete so we exist somewhere between the two.


(rédemption en forme de péché)

6:48 (loop)


What we are what we are not. Our will eradicates doubt as we struggle with faith. All that I will never be- define who I am. I strive to complete the picture, knowing full well that I will run out of time.


After you have put off facing the truth for as long as possible, and you have lied and cheated in order not to cry – there remains the euphoria of release. Redemption lies in the confession of our sins. We fear our failures because we’ve been schooled to “win”. It’s prohibited to embrace collapse – it’s a sign of weakness and ruin. Anything out of the norm is not to be spoken of in public – and in fact if you can ignore it completely – do it.


We are shamed by our own morality.


There is no disgrace to failure; it’s a fact of life. Catastrophe fuels evolution and disappointments release catharsis. How you recover to survive is the point.

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