image from Vox Pop

Vox Pop

Silent, and one minute in duration, Vox Pop is set in a large, empty sports stadium. A panoptic tracking shot, evoking the mass-movement of an Audience Wave, is contrasted with the portrayal of a single audience member’s gestural action.

Without the presence of the crowd to complete the effect of the participatory cheer, his peculiar salute seems ominous and unsettling. Not shared with others in the circular sweep of the stadium, it summons up both the history of the arena in western culture and the evolution of the salute gesture.

International sports competitions that attract spectators to fill huge arenas have a particular relationship to government and nationhood. These contests ostensibly sublimate the impulse for violent conflict, but, more importantly, they also reflect the global competition between sites for the potential deployment of capital, and ancillary consumer spending.

In the performance of an Audience Wave large masses of people move as though they are one undulating organism, bringing to mind the Leviathan that illustrated the 1651 edition of Thomas Hobbes’ publication of the same name. The body politic thus evoked by La Ola converges seemingly for the passive consumption of a spectacle, yet this convergence gives rise to spontaneous collective performances such as the Wave, independent of any centralized authority.

An investigation of the individual within the crowd, Vox Pop draws attention to the absent body politic and queries the particular dynamic of the collective.