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False Witness Made a Sound Installation Inspired by CDJs and Teenage Trauma

"This is a voyeuristic experience. You should feel uncomfortable and nervous."

Michelle Lhooq

Michelle Lhooq

False Witness is the alias of Marco Gomez, a Brooklyn-based DJ and multidisciplinary artist who straddles the intersection between nightlife and socio-political activism. Gomez has never been shy of bringing real world shit into the club, blowing up the false dichotomy between thinking and dancing. His 2014 EP on Lit City Trax, Machina, asked everyone hitting the dancefloor: "What political machines of oppression are you buying into? Which societal mechanisms do you have to destroy?" Meanwhile, KUNQ, the artist collective he established with Rizzla, remains a central force in spreading dance music that volleys over the heads of squares and into the hips of urban misfits and queer people of color.

For his latest project, Gomez turned Brooklyn's Stream Gallery into his childhood bedroom for a heady installation called "puertos/cerrados," which examines how sexual awareness develops in cities where privacy is in short supply. Three original sound and video pieces play on loop and in reverse—creating an effect that Gomez calls "memory jogging," a concept inspired by using the jog wheel of CDJs to manipulate audio playback.

Marco Gomez with his mother at the opening of "puertos/cerrados"

"I started thinking about the term 'memory jogging' in the way I would use turntables or CDJs," Gomez tells us. "It's very simple to just hit play and let something go in one direction. But it requires a bit of effort to constantly rewind a piece of vinyl or a jog wheel to keep playing a particular moment of sound. The action of a quantized loop doesn't cut it. That feels too accurate, too precise. Our memories are hardly ever like that. I like to think that this installation as a constant manual rewind; a jog back to a moment in time."

A still from "puertos/cerrados"

Because the sound and video footage are culled from Gomez's childhood home and his memories of a "traumatic adolescence" (isn't everyone's?), walking into the gallery can feel like an intrusive act. Which is precisely what Gomez is aiming for.

"This is a very voyeuristic experience," he says. "You should feel uncomfortable and nervous about entering some else's personal space. I hope that the installation activates memories about themselves. Our experiences and memories, especially of trauma, work their way into how we perceive ourselves, and they shape how we act towards others. We rarely think about these moments critically but we should. I want people to walk away feeling more self-aware of their personhood than before they walked in."

"puertos/cerrados" ran at Stream Gallery from June 18-28, 2015. Catch False Witness at KUNQ's next party on July 11, more info here.

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