Murphy’s Law Or:
How I Learned To Interrupt The Transition (2020)
The epigram, Murphy’s Law, is a humorous but worthwhile speculation. Although the adage “anything that can go wrong will go wrong” is negative, it conveys the practical impact of every situation. If there is more than one possible outcome of a situation, and one of those outcomes will result in disaster or an undesirable consequence, then somebody will do it that way.
Murphy’s Law Or: was triggered by the Doomsday Clock announcement in January 2020 that shows us we are at the riskiest part of history due to anthropogenic climate change, multiple wars, and increasingly advanced missile programs. The Doomsday Clock is a poetic construct, even if it uses statistical data to “display the time.” It is currently 100 seconds to midnight.
The aesthetic interpretation of disaster need not be so prescriptive as The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has promoted with the Doomsday Clock. However, I would argue that the Doomsday Clock is an important poetic symbol in the media landscape despite its flaws. Since poetics is an appreciation of how conceptual and poetic elements come together as an aesthetic rather than a literal interpretation of the historical background of the subject matter (Culler, 2017), the Doomsday Clock can trigger public engagement in issues of war, natural disaster, and epidemics. However, what the Doomsday Clock misses is how social and ecological structure disruptions become disruptions in personal biographies. With their pessimistic approach, cataclysmic scenarios can become deactivating or psychologically disturbing for people (Hoffman, 2015). Additionally, concerns about the environment are not universal. They are specific and grounded. However, apocalyptic narratives tend to make environmental concerns a universal exigency.
Murphy’s Law Or: implicitly asked—is it material now? I took advantage of how video projections can optically materialize digital artifacts (and digital transmission of them and people) beyond the flat screen and onto various surfaces with different depths. We (the participant performers) found that while the transmission is interrupted regarding the technology, what is in between people, interactions, and elements- are transitions- not transmissions. It is a concept that opposes fatalism and conservatism. Maybe it seems like everything is bound to collapse and go wrong, especially with pandemics and personal empowerment. Still, I wanted to encourage seeing these moments as interruptions in transitioning—changes.