Double Stroke, 2019

in collaboration with Eddie Villanueva; two IBM Selectric typewriters, motors, raspberry pi, power supply, clamps, desk, plants, letter board;

Installation View Office Space 2, New Brunswick, NJ

Video documentation:

Double Stroke is a collaborative sound installation by New Jersey-based artists Sandra Erbacher and Eddie Villanueva. At the center of the installation sit two IBM typewriters on a large Steelcase office desk. Pistons are programmed to hammer on the typewriters' keys to the rhythm of heavy metal band Slipknot's 2008 single "Psychosocial." In staging the unbridled, masculine aggression of heavy metal music within the staid and functional interior architecture of the workplace, Erbacher and Villanueva ask us to consider how patriarchal violence and control are channeled and instrumentalized by the techniques of corporate bureaucracy.

Double Stroke draws together the interdisciplinary methods and lines of social critique of both Villanueva's and Erbacher's practices. Villanueva employs sculpture, programming, and audiovisual media to investigate and critique culturally sanctioned modes of heteronormative masculinity. Delving into the formation of his own gendered identity, Villanueva considers how the continuum from violence to emotional vulnerability is manifested in private and public spaces. Rock music is a recurring motif in Villanueva's audiovisual work. As depicted in Slipknot's "Duality" music video, the cathartic anger of the band's music signals the simultaneous senses of dispossession and entitlement felt by lower-middle-class white male youths who have not been fully incorporated into the spoils of corporate capitalism.

Erbacher’s work offers an extended critique of the ways that discipline and control are exercised through bureaucracies, pointing to the ways that corporate and state bureaucracies concentrate power through intertwined aims and methods. Erbacher is particularly interested in tracing the ways that office interior design shifted alongside the development of neoliberal methods of rationalization, privatization, and quantified surveillance of human output. The objects and archival images in Erbacher's work suggest particular moments in the history of bureaucracy: for instance, the IBM Selectric typewriters in Double Stroke point to IBM's collaboration with the Nazi regime during the Holocaust.

Double Stroke leaves open the specific identity of the absent workers at its desk, but invites us to consider how laborers' bodies and attitudes are unconsciously shaped by the social codes of patriarchy, discipline and bureaucracy. Finally, the show highlights Office Space 2's site within a 20th-century small business office building, inviting the viewer to consider how these codes are embedded within the gallery's architecture.

All documentation by Greyory Blake.