"Empty Avenues (Best of Season 1) reimagines the daily life of the artist through the formal languages of television sitcoms and YouTube ‘Best of’ compilations. By doing so the work engages the concept of narrative identity; questioning the extent to which identity is shaped through media influence, and our potential to reformulate understandings of self through narrative reconstruction. What emerges is an absurd, Existential sitcom that explores themes of meaninglessness, isolation, domesticity, and despair.
The concept of narrative identity
In other words, our understanding of ourselves, the values and goals that we possess, and our place within society can only be grasped within the context of a self-generated historical narrative. However, to what extent is our formulation of narrative identity shaped by pre-existing narrative structures? And how can the implementation of alternative narrative structures potentially
reformulate our understanding of ourselves?
Empty Avenues (Best of Season 1) explores these ideas by reimagining the narrative identity of the artist through the conventions of traditional TV sitcoms and YouTube ‘Best of’ compilations. Interactions, responsibilities, and leisure activities are taken from O’Brien’s daily life and restaged as scenes within a constructed domestic environment. Through the process of restaging, the work engages uncanniness as a way of generating critical distance and estrangement towards daily life. This process also allows the work to be instilled with a greater sense of subjectivity; utilizing mise-en-scène to externalise the experience of somebody struggling with Existential concerns. This blending of factuality and subjectivity emerges as a magical realist take on a traditional sitcom premise: the Odd Couple scenario. This cliché premise is depicted in Empty Avenues as the relationship between a man and a materialisation of ‘the void’ – a universal nothingness that permeates everything. In these terms, the relationship between the characters can be understood as an embodiment of the conditions that generate the Absurd.
In terms of narrative structure, Empty Avenues is presented as a ‘Best of’ compilation instead of a traditionally chronological, cohesive narrative. Such compilations, typically assembled by fans and amateur video editors, feature fragments of scenes that have been removed from their original contexts and reassembled in ways that distort the sequence of events. By presenting Empty Avenues in this way, the work disrupts the temporal conditions of narrative identity that allow for the construction of meaning. As such, scenes are instilled with a greater sense of absurdity and meaninglessness, allowing the audience to share in the Existential perspective of the main character. As a result, both the character and the audience are confronted with a narrative world that is constantly on the brink of both creation and destruction, and are faced with the question of whether they can continue to engage with such a world.
At it’s core, Empty Avenues (Best of Season 1) explores the enduring question: how do we find meaningful relationships and pursuits in an immutably meaningless world? "