After a fleeting glance at a person holding a camera towards themselves, the perspective is inverted, looking outwards at a parking lot in the Philippines. In those few instants, the initial glimpse of Alfred Marasigan’s performance The Ballad of Plastic Bags, our focus is drawn towards the lens that allows us to share moments instantaneously across the globe.
Sitting at my computer in my wool socks, peeking through the view-finder at a distant and warm place, I am struck by the momentary presence of a body manipulating the lens. What follows is a slow and jittery handheld dance of the artist inching across a parking lot to behold the random trajectory of two plastic bags in the wind. As the heat and humidity of the setting sun radiate off of the pavement, the sounds of whizzing diesel vehicles and a nearby rooster echo across the vacant lot. A majority of the action is offscreen and only heard, until the ominous figure of a helmeted motorcyclist comes into view. Spewing blue exhaust, the vehicle emits asphyxiating toxic fumes evoking the worldwide health crisis, as well as a recent volcanic eruption in Southern Luzon. The spectre of the faceless rider looms in the background. After following the flow of the two plastic bags for thirty minutes, the initial stumble of the camera operator revealing themself still lingers. Colouring the entire event, it reminds me that we are bound by a web of screens and cameras — looking into the eye of technology as a means of looking out.