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Please Do Not Avert Your Eyes From The Screen. 

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Date Minted:  February 20, 2021

Artist Description: Please Do Not Avert Your Eyes From The Screen. 

CohentheWriter’s Commentary:

Please Do Not Avert Your Eyes from the Screen is a compelling case-study in meta-analysis and activity. The following assertion is not to say that this is a “serious” piece —because it’s quite the silly and light and meme-inspired artwork— but within Please Do Not Avert, the artist’s perception of mass psychology is given aesthetic life in the whirling, flashing, spinning graphics that we are asked not to avert our eyes from. This is MattyFurious’ thing, taking these kinds of cheesy, kitschy, low-effort advertising graphics and scattering them around a frame. Sometimes they clog it up completely so that images appear to crawl what with all the movement, and all the flashing/pulsing/buzzing is enough to send someone into an epileptic fit. In Please Do Not Avert Your Eyes from the Screen, the effect is significantly less staggering. But the artist’s self-control ultimately allows for a much more psychologically intimidating piece. Because it is a learned artwork. And it is also quite unsettling, in the way of Ingmar Bergman’s films; there’s a long history of giant eyes being used to induce squeamishness. Take Luis Bunuel’s surrealist film Un Chien Andelou, where a close-up of a cow’s eyeball being slit open still manages to pack the same stomach-churning punch it did when it was made in 1929. MattyFurious is either cognizant of that fact or is channeling Bunuel’s spirit from the collective unconscious. Please Do Not Avert Your Eyes from the Screen is an unsubtle psychological study in the same way Un Chien Andelou was. And you, my friend, are the test subject. As, I’m afraid, am I. 

And I suppose it’s us —suckers— who are represented front and center in this piece, by the all-seeing eye which glitches and continuously blinks.  The blue pallor of the entire image gives the eye a putrid, almost sterile quality. The video of the eyeball itself would fit in a variety of locales: snuff film, weird pornography, surgical training video, closed-circuit camera footage of a person being tortured. And as such, the insinuations hover around the dirty and dangerous, or otherwise the medical and off-putting. This eye is the largest single object in the piece, its whites seeming to glisten, and all the radial lines of its iris visible whenever it opens. On the right side of the frame, the gaggle of Clip-Art images that are characteristic of Matty Furious’ work all shimmer and spin in a small bunch. A poorly-rendered hand holding a green dollar-sign. A spinning penny with Abe Lincoln on one side and a smiley face on the other. And then the more overtly meaningful bits of information, the lot of them designed in the vein of flashing clickbait advertisements you’d see on the bottom of shitty websites, and which flank the content you came for. “MAKE MONEY FROM THE COMFORT OF YOUR HOME!” “TURN $9,999 INTO $99,999.” “Earn cash, get paid per view!” Each one of these small banners flashes wildly, like the lights that sit atop slot machines. They’re designed to steal your attention. They’re designed to play on your ingrained psychological faults. Humans do like shiny, after all. And humans do like pretty color, after all. And humans do like flashy lights, don’t we? Besides this cluster of manipulative imagery and the giant eye, there is a large square in the bottom left side of the screen, and within it flash the familiar words: Please Do Not Avert Your Eyes from the Screen. Is it a request? Is it a plea? Is it a command? Well, my friends, that’s what we’ve come here to find out.

Manipulation is the key theme here. In a way, the artist himself is the master manipulator; not just MattyFurious in the context of this piece, but every artist in relation to every work they create. In this circumstance, however, look at what Furious has done to this eyeball, forcing it to open and close and open and close on and on eternally. The master manipulator, God of this piece, gives the eyeball no choice but to gaze upon the objects that the artist has put around it, the advertisements and commands. There is no questioning or request, that much is clear. When MattyFurious writes Please Do Not Avert Your Eyes from the Screen, he is a disembodied voice on a PA system speaking to a focus group: “Please do not touch the Cheez-its.” “Please do not write on the table.” And so on and so forth. It only sounds like a request, but it is very clearly an imperative. And here, too, the world of this piece is one large imperative. And Furious seems to be communicated that out here in our larger and more expansive world, we’re being manipulated in the very same fashion. We couldn’t avert our eyes from the screen if we wanted to, no matter what the screen was. Today’s manipulative tactics are a bit more complex than the flashy-spinny-pretty visual devices of the past. The algorithmic manipulation of our brain is incredibly powerful. We open our eyes, and we look where we are told to look. Should we look away, the little phantom voice —sounding strangely like our own conscience— repeats the title of this piece in our ear. And we say, “So sorry, sir/madame,” and look again where we are told. 

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