In Heavy-Eyed Tyrants and Boring Machine Operators (2020), Kailum Graves montages both past and present heads of state and members of the Group of Twenty (G20). The video piece characterizes world leaders as unseeing and inattentive “machine operators” who prioritize the financial elite rather than the will of the people. In an effort to challenge a common commitment to historically unchanging political systems, Graves “pumps the machine operators through his own (imaginary) machine.” The increasing visual and auditory condensation which follows in the film blurs these aforementioned preconceived notions. In an age of political upheaval, in which disenchanted citizens have lost faith, Graves encourages audiences to reconsider their own agency and collective power for change.
Kailum Graves is an artist and binary archivist critically obsessed with Web and born-digital content. He is particularly interested in image-rich technologies and the way global media communication—a landscape controlled by a handful of multidimensional oligopolistic corporate-run networks—can be sampled, organized, and considered in new philosophical, sociological, and political terms. Nonetheless, while these issues are political and economic in nature, Kailum believes anti-capitalist art offers no real alternative to the economic and ideological discourses of multinational capitalism. In its place, he is interested in examining the politics of the image and the construction of truth. To do this, he uses the Internet, which has normalized the act of collecting and compiling information, to preserve and curate found images and raw material. The aim is to engage with the cultural space and aesthetics of the Internet—and the vast amount of digital information it contains—as a subject, material, and tool of artistic production.