The Eyes That See You, is a slide projection on an automated loop that shows pictures of animals at display in two different zoos in California. Recording the moment in which the animals looked straight at the camera, the piece memorializes a moment of acknowlegdment. Projected in the space, the eyes of the animals “find” the gaze of the viewer. That moment of seeing is one of mutual recognition: we see their captivity, but they also reflect ours.
I became interested in zoos and the paradoxical role they play in a moment of ecological crisis. Epitomizing the paradox of modernity zoos, like museums, are a product of imperialist ventures and colonization. Today, though, some of them play an important role in conservationist efforts, trying to keep endangered species from extinction.
The projector is programmed to loop, making sound and rotating, like a clock ticking and marking time. In the exhibition The Ages, the piece was placed in a corner, close to floor level, evoking a peripheral vision that glimpses the part of reality we don’t direct our attention to.
Carmen Amengual, The Eyes that See You, The Ages, Installation view, Dread Lounge, Los Angeles, 2018