16th Art Division Excellence Award

Bye Buy

Video work

Neil BRYANT [United Kingdom]


Bye Buy is a video work that mixes archive footage from the high point of the consumer and consumerism of the 1950s and 1960s, and composites th is wi th contemporary imagery, signs and coding of the present. The scenes, objects and images seem familiar but are distorted, out of time, from a world that is no longer ours. The work playfully explores how the mediated representations of capitalism and consumerism were seen in the past and now can be seen as naïve, outmoded and inadequate. The exaggerated size of the characters’ eyes infers a primitive instinctive need to consume, being in a state of hunger that cannot be satisfied, while the bar codes represent a structure, a system that is hidden to us, unless we choose to look. We are ourselves consumed in this system and are complicit in our consumption and the consumptionof others.

Reason for Award

As a means of transforming them into familiar yet unfamiliar creatures, the artist enlarges the eyes of all the people in these images. Perhaps he is using the sort of image processing technology found in photo-sticker booths to automatically enlarge facial features recognized as “eyes.” The big-eyed humans are smiling and holding cosmetics, ice cream, or other consumer goods. Their eyes give them the appearance of people bloated with desires due to immersion in a consumerist culture. Yet, perhaps because the images are from old black-and-white commercials, the remoteness of this world, with its aura of another country, era, and culture, affords one a distinctive stance of viewing this fiction with an air of detachment. That sense of distance is appealing. Eye-enlargement is a simple idea, but the uniqueness of the conception and the penetrating clarity of its execution together produce impressive results.