Mallardproprism March 2014

Mallardproprism is a self-referential performative installation depicting the misunderstanding of its own punning title.

The video demonstrates the combination of words that sound alike to the word ‘malapropism’ through their prop status – a wooden mallard and a prism.

I used a projector light to activate the prism and a canvas as a backdrop to receive the spectrum and mallard’s shadow. The result is something like painting.

I chose the soundtrack of Richard Strauss’ Also sprach Zarathustra, (Thus Spoke Zarathustra Op. 30, 1896 – inspired by Nietzsche’s philosophical novel of the same name).

The initial fanfare is engrained into the mass subconscious through Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 film A Space Odyssey 2001. It accompanies the epic scene portraying a monkey realising the potential of a bone as a tool for the first time. The image of the bone then cuts to a spaceship in orbit – a potent visual metaphor for mankind’s technological progression.

My appropriation of this sublime music juxtaposed with such banal props creates a sensational bathos. It is totally absurd but I find great solace in it. Mallardproprism reflects the idea that life can sometimes feel like one huge misunderstanding.

Mallardproprism was conceived for, and screened at All Souls College, Oxford, for the performative talk Pun Pilgrimage: Punbecoming (March 2014).


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