Domestic (Meaning the Entire Planet) Catastrophe: HeHe

Imagine an aquarium containing a rotating plastic globe, a motor to turn the globe and electronic valve which releases a fluoresceine tracing dye onto the sphere. As the sphere turns, the green dye wraps itself around the sphere, enveloping Earth and filling the atmosphere in a lurid green gas. Created by the collaborative group HeHe, the work presents an actual example of a human-induced emission in the context of global disaster, linking what many believe to be a 'cause' with its 'effect. The work is entitled "Domestic catastrophe #3 La Planète Laboratoire, 2012.

HeHe-Domestic-Catastrophe-1

A second ‘catastrophe domestique’ was entitled Plane Jam, is a site-specific art project by HeHe in which a miniature airplane flew out of the Theatre Royal in the historical centre of town. The small plane emitted a tremendous amount of white smoke, a disproportion of scale that always evokes alarm.HeHe-Domestic-catastrophe-2

Plane Jam, a site-specific art project by the Paris-based collective HeHe. It involved flying a miniature airplane out of the Theatre Royal building in the historical centre of Norwich. The small plane emitted a disproportionate cloud of white smoke. The project belongs to a series of HeHe works entitled ‘catastrophes domestiques'.

These works encapsulate the two great catastrophes that are looming prospects in the current era: global climate change and global terrorism. HeHe insinuates both of these gigantic threats into the lives of individual citizens by using the word ‘domestique’ in their titles.

 

 

 

Plane Jam, a site-specific art project by the Paris-based collective HeHe. The plan was, as promised by the press release sent out in advance, to fly a miniature airplane out of a theatre building, the Theatre Royal in the historical centre of town. The small plane was to emit unusually big — for a plane that size — clouds of white smoke, thus producing a strange and possibly estranging variation on what must be a pretty routine occurrence in a town like Norwich as in many other places, the passing of a plane. The project was intended as a next chapter in a series of HeHe works provisionally called ‘catastrophes domestiques,’ a title whose meaning wasn’t exactly clear to me, but which invoked a range of things, including a number of publicity campaigns initiated by governments and business in recent years, which sought to bring global crises like climate change down to the level of everyday experience, in the process ‘taming’ or ‘domesticating’ these crises, robbing them of their more disturbing features, as well as, quite possibly, their capacity to disturb. (One recent example is a Renault tv commercial which features various very mundane scenes – a dinner in a restaurant, a trip to the supermarket – except that all appliances featured in them – the portable PIN machine; the cash register – are powered by small combustion engines emitting small clouds of smoke.) But HeHe’s project had caught my attention also for a more specific reason, namely as a possible instantiation of a technique that I call – for the moment – ‘environmental method.’ - See more at: http://www.csisponline.net/2012/03/05/on-hehes-environmental-method/#sthash.T4yTkd3l.dpuf
Plane Jam, a site-specific art project by the Paris-based collective HeHe. The plan was, as promised by the press release sent out in advance, to fly a miniature airplane out of a theatre building, the Theatre Royal in the historical centre of town. The small plane was to emit unusually big — for a plane that size — clouds of white smoke, thus producing a strange and possibly estranging variation on what must be a pretty routine occurrence in a town like Norwich as in many other places, the passing of a plane. The project was intended as a next chapter in a series of HeHe works provisionally called ‘catastrophes domestiques,’ a title whose meaning wasn’t exactly clear to me, but which invoked a range of things, including a number of publicity campaigns initiated by governments and business in recent years, which sought to bring global crises like climate change down to the level of everyday experience, in the process ‘taming’ or ‘domesticating’ these crises, robbing them of their more disturbing features, as well as, quite possibly, their capacity to disturb. (One recent example is a Renault tv commercial which features various very mundane scenes – a dinner in a restaurant, a trip to the supermarket – except that all appliances featured in them – the portable PIN machine; the cash register – are powered by small combustion engines emitting small clouds of smoke.) But HeHe’s project had caught my attention also for a more specific reason, namely as a possible instantiation of a technique that I call – for the moment – ‘environmental method.’ - See more at: http://www.csisponline.net/2012/03/05/on-hehes-environmental-method/#sthash.T4yTkd3l.dpuf

As is true in all HeHe projects, stunning visual effects evoke terrifying impending crises.

Scale discrepancies and dislocations are key to HeHe’s creative explorations. These work’s beauty is as grand as the terrors they evoke. Yet they accomplish this grandeur on a physical scale  that alters everyday settings ever so slightly.

Scale manipulation is a tried and tested method and feature of site-specific art, but most artists opt for enlargement instead of ‘miniaturization’. In this context, miniaturization is consistent with the theme of the ‘domestic’ scale of worldwide dangers.

These works raise two unsettling questions with regard to scale. What else is out of proportion? Is it our fear? Is it our complacency?