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Michael Leggett - Time Travelling with Rosalind Brodsky (review) - Leonardo 34:1 Leonardo 34.1 (2001) 76

Book Review

Time Travelling with Rosalind Brodsky

Time Travelling with Rosalind Brodsky by Suzanne Treister. Black Dog Publishing, London, U.K. Book with CD-ROM (for Macintosh and Windows). 124 pp., illus. Trade. ISBN: 1-901033-66X.

Rosalind Brodsky is the alter ego of artist Suzanne Treister. Travel is central to both their existences. Suzanne moves between the spaces of England, Australia and the rest of the world while straddling the twentieth and twenty-first centuries; Rosalind, in her time-travelling costumes, spans the twentieth century and goes into the year 2058, the year of her demise. The space she occupies during this leap is, of course, the virtual space of the interactive multimedia computer and the encounter between each user and the imagination of the artist.

The Institute of Militronics and Advanced Time Interventionality, the site of this encounter, gives access to the various rooms inhabited by the conscious recollections of Rosalind's unconscious. She uses here the classical device of ars memoria (with the narrator walking through the rooms of an imaginary building in order to retrieve aide memoire and thereby, the details of the speech), which has become a form vigorously explored in interactive multimedia for a variety of purposes. Here, however, while there is much that is familiar, conjunctions and occurrences remain mysterious. Rosalind, among others, delivers a monologue ranging across discussion points of late twentieth-century media studies--from psychoanalysis to Mary Poppins, vibrators, science fiction films, the Russian Revolution (complete with clips from Eisenstein's October), 1960s euphoria and so forth.

We are sometimes hosted through the lavish palace interiors by the cut-out Brigadier Lethbridge-Jones--("This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to characters either living or dead is entirely the product of the author's imagination")--in a fin-de-siècle, post-Cold War celebration breaking with a past embedded with mediated history, the history of journalists and pundits, leavened with the lost conversations of a thousand parties and meetings. We encounter stories of Old Europe: pogroms, revolts, emigrés and so forth. These are central to her history. Rosalind wishes to be "connected to my roots," and interspersed are photos and videos of Treister family members, as family and as players in re-enactments of historical moments and encounters with extensive figments of Freud, Jung, Klein, Lacan and Kristeva. (As a time traveler, Rosalind is able, of course, to warn Freud to leave for London. He does, and she sees a lot more of him.)

The lavishly produced book and CD-ROM pull together many strands of the artist's work as an installation and video artist, performer, recording musician, publisher and digital author, re-purposing the work made primarily for one area into material re-contextualized for another. It shares spaces explored by other multimedia artists like Zoe Beloff (Beyond; Where Here) and Graham Ellard/Stephen Johnstone (Passagen). While the reader/user of the publication suspends disbelief, the work uses paranoid nostalgia to describe the psychic times and spaces traversed prior to the turn of the century. "Where have you gone? Behind your eyes . . ." are the opening lines from one of the songs by Rosalind and the Satellites of Love. Rosalind goes further, projecting her vision into the dismally corporatized world of the first half of the twenty-first century.

Michael Leggett
17 Ivy Street, Darlington, Sydney NSW 2008, Australia.
E-mail: <>.

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