Cabinet of Curiosities

2014, 27:27 min, color, sound

"Note to the viewer: Das Kunstkabinett, or Cabinet of Curiosities, is a 'microcosm' or theater of the world. A memory theater which provides solace and a retreat for contemplation."

These words open and frame Kobland's Cabinet of Curiosities, a meditative work that speaks to memory, identity, and the relationships between individuals and experiences that transcend space and time. A hypnotic gallery of images—postcards, domestic spaces, window sills, personal belongings—float across the frame and fade into one another, constructing strata of associations and anonymous histories. These visual "curiosities" are paired with sampled music ranging from Simon and Garfunkel to Nina Simone and Beethoven. Like memory itself, image and sound are complexly layered: things slip into the visual or aural space as soon as they slip out and welcome something new. Kobland composes a loose and pensive narrative in stream-of-consciousness style that appears as white text at the base of the frame, much like subtitles to the artist's solitary contemplation. Although the piece is deeply subjective and draws its imagery and sounds from the canon of popular culture, it gestures at timely concerns with the contemporary experience, making reference to the alienation of technologically mediated communication. As the "subtitles" state, "the world is a simulacrum, an 'as if,' a one-act play, a comic tragedy." At the close, the cabinet fades to white, leaving only a vase of purple irises and the text, "Memories fade, rain falls, worlds move, time flows."

Thanks: Karl Korp, The MacDowell Colony, George Griffin, E. Jay Sims, and to all those whose music was borrowed and mashed.