The digital video, ‘Whitey’ originated in South Africa when I came in contact with a local man who had an incredible gift of telling a good story. He agreed to share his verbal history while being video taped on location somewhere between Pretoria and Pilanesberg Game Refuge. Back in the states, I began to work with this footage in a way that kept his story intact and yet would allow me to open new doors with my digital video. In the studio I shot new footage of a white man just listening and this became the other piece to the work.
I created a contemporary sense of cubist space by dividing the composition into alternating linear bars. This allowed both men to be seen at the same time in the same flattened layer. By doing so the cubist space visually allows an interaction with the viewer by viewing the speaking and listening in the sametime and frame . Conceptually the video embraces the ideas of cubism, race, speaking and listening in a way that nullifies any sense of separation. The title of the work, Whitey is a play on the South African’s name (Whitey) and the listener a ‘caucasian’. The video stands as a visual art piece and at the same time reflects a documentary type of immediacy because of the way it was taped. It is politically charged because of the history between blacks and whites in South Africa and all over the world. I have left the reaction and response up to the viewer and how they choose to define the subject.
David Carlson, video stills from 'Whitey' digital video
15 minutes 20 seconds running time, 2006