Ménage à Trois

Douglas Davis: "Ménage à Trois"
1986, 59:45 min, color

Ménage à Trois was a live satellite and radio performance that linked the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, and the Venice Biennale. With the live satellite technology allowing narrative simultaneity and juxtaposition, this multi-levelled work employs the premise and structure of a mystery story to examine the role of the viewer in television culture and that of the video camera as witness.

A woman is killed in Venice, and the search for her murderer, spanning the three cities, provokes an inquiry into the veracity of the live image and the moral complicity of the viewer. Davis, as the accused man, pleads with television viewers to call in to clear his name. Three phone-in "witnesses" debate guilt, innocence, and the concept of the "reader" ”“ in this case, viewer ”“ as murderer. Following the telecast, the international audience participated in a live broadcast on National Public Radio, which addressed technology's mediating effect on public and private morality.

Communication Art

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