This is no random location as it contains some of the oldest ancient maps and the splendid terrestrial and celestial globes by Venetian cosmographer Vincenzo Maria Coronelli. Steeped in so much opulence, the Simon Denny installation is one of the most talked-about of this Biennale.
Marco Polo airport is also giving anyone flying into Venice another view of the complex library structure in the arrivals hall in the form of a giant life-size reproduction of the Biblioteca Marciana’s walls and ceiling, but with the earth and sky inverted, giving the operation a dual role: it is a great media and promotion strategy but also a way of creating false expectations as to the hidden secrets of this magical place.
Simon Denny’s work explores the potential of the Web and obsolete technology, playing with rhetoric and the role played by technology in redefining the global culture and information-control systems. He uses space to isolate aspects of the media culture rather than mapping them, an approach that further differentiates his work from that of many artists with a fascination for the same rhetoric.
Much of that produced in recent years by the post-Internet is an easily recognisable aesthetic that synthesises and summarily re-proposes. Denny’s method prompts a subtle but exemplary conjunction between a sense of complicity and a criticism of the digital culture, which is the significant aspect of this work.
“Secret Power”, also the exhibition title, highlights a changed gaze that is more markedly anthropological in its analysis of the visual culture of the National Security Agency (NSA). This process refocuses on NSA’s aesthetic imagery, starting with the information contained in the Power Point slides revealed by young US computer professional Snowden and highlighting New Zealand’s core role in the Five Eyes alliance, alongside USA, GB, Canada and Australia.
The central hall of the library has been turned into a giant server-room with two long rows of glass displays facing each other. Designer David Darchicourt who worked as NSA creative director from 2001 to 2012, is adopted as an artistic prop to make the whole work easier to read.
until 22 November 2015
New Zealand Pavilion
Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana
piazzetta San Marco, 13/a
Aeroporto internazionale Marco Polo
via Galileo Galilei, 30/1