Using the Danish television police drama Forbrydelsen (The Killing) as a jumping-off point, Clemens investigates the unseen labour involved in the spectacle of television, as well as the televisual clichés we have come to understand as representative of successful detective work. Focusing on a crime scene that occurs in the first episode of the first season, which shows a car being pulled from a river, Cognitive Reorientation is a deconstruction and reconstruction of the scene’s various elements in the centre of Christchurch, providing a glimpse behind the scenes into the often-clunky production of mass entertainment.
Sited in the basement of the former Price Waterhouse Coopers building, which housed a carpark, pool, and gym, Cognitive Reorientation relates to the imperfections and fallibility of memory. Like a great deal of the city that was destroyed or demolished following the 2010-11 earthquake sequence, the Price Waterhouse Coopers building was once a place of significance for many. The remnants of the building will eventually be removed, leaving no trace and forcing those who knew it to rely purely on their memories without visual cues.
A great deal of Clemens’ previous work has engaged with the mechanics of cinema and television production, using original and recreated props and video clips from Terminator 2, Blade Runner, and Nightmare on Elm Street to produce complex installations that weave fiction and non-fiction together. There is reverence in these works, but also an implicit questioning. In Cognitive Reorientation, Clemens asks: Where does artistic fabrication begin and end? What is a clue? A sign? Proof? What is the status of evidence when our methods of replication have advanced so rapidly?