see-fifty-one (2017)

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see-fifty-one (2017), prints installation of binary codes (binary codes are translated text from bill C-51), Katarokwi-Kingston, Ontario. (installation view: Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts) photo by Chris Miner. 

see-fifty-one (2017) extracts sections of Canada’s “Anti-terrorism Act, 2015” third reading, that I perceive to be irrationally vague and challenging. More concretely, these sections define terrorism in inadequate terms while also claiming this act “does not include advocacy, protest, dissent and artistic expression”.[1] Once the sections have been extracted from the act, I translated each section into binary, further complicating and abstracting already vague and challenging language.

 

This work emphasizing concepts of interpretation, clarity, and constructing reactionary legislation that works to favour whiteness over non-white bodies. In abstract ways, these prints become portraits of “domestic terrorism”. The use of coding in this work is to do three things. Challenge and critique language and clarity; extract as much information from a source as possible to form a new source of knowledge; and to act as a guide for future projects and works. At first glance, binary codes appear to lack information, text, and substance. Though, once the coding is applied to an algorithm and software, the text and content is revealed. Like the “Anti-terrorism Act, 2015” that appears vague and unclear when reading, once it the text is applied to an ideology or system, most of which are oppressive, a new function and understanding of the text comes to light. The act is not powerful because it sets structures in words, it is powerful because it lacks structure and can be reformulated, understood, creeped, and redeveloped when white settlers need it to.

As scholars Wendy Chan and Dorothy Chunn write, “Key features of the act include criminalizing a broad range of activities that would aid in the advancement of a terrorist act, allowing elected ministers to designate certain groups and individuals as terrorists”. [2] Whereas in third times the charm two bodies were created, see-fifty-one works a step further to profile and literally frame the colonial, white, and disruptive idea of terrorism in so called Canada.

 

[1] Parliament of Canada (2015). “Anti-terrorism Act, 2015, Third Reading”, Parliament of Canada, retrieved online here: http://www.parl.ca/DocumentViewer/en/41-2/bill/C-51/third-reading/page-29.

 

[2] Chan, Wendy and Dorothy Chunn (2014). Racialization, Crime, and Criminal Justice in Canada, 120.