The Fool, The Hierophant, The Devil, and the Wheel

Curated by Dan Cameron for Prospect 1.5
4-Channel Video Installation
Madame John's Legacy

Madame John’s Legacy is two blocks from Jackson Square where, rain or shine, for a small donation, you can consult with one of New Orleans’ finest tarot card readers.  To me, the art of Tarot breaks down complicated cultural phenomena and reveals its nature by applying archetypes to the situation.  The unconscious choice of a random card can suddenly illuminate the truth that one could not face without the metaphor.   

In order to uncover the nature of the unconscious forces guiding the human race through the 21st century, I deconstructed a contemporary television show down to its archetypal elements by filtering it through the lens of tarot card interpretation. I used NBC’s Deal or No Deal as my example global popular culture, because identical versions of the show exist in over 60 countries worldwide. This cultural universality inherent in the format is a manifestation of the zeitgeist and deserves investigation.   

I created a four-channel video projection where each screen is an independent scene or character from the television show and functions as a card in the tarot spread.  The cards were created using up to 20 layers of video, shot “from scratch” and unified in a temporally specific collage.  Each card is a loop of a different length, so when projected together they create randomly assembled visual and audio experience.

Much like the city of New Orleans, this project draws from distinct layers of culture to create its form.  By synthesizing polarities, (Fate vs. Free Will, Spiritual vs. Material, Analog vs. Digital) the end result can can something colorful, beautiful, and tangible. 

-Dave Greber 

"Indeed, for me one revelation was the vitality of video in New Orleans. In “Fresh Off the Turnip Truck” [through Jan. 20] at Madame John’s Legacy, the 18th-century Creole gem on Dumaine Street, the standout is The Fool, The Hierophant, The Devil and the Wheel (2010), a mind-bending installation by Dave Greber (Philadelphia-born, New Orleans-based). Four fever-dream-colored channels conflate two “systems” concerned with the unspooling of destiny: tarot cards, a standard diversion for tourists in nearby Jackson Square (the Devil is incarnated by Greber as a flame-eyed cat whose grinding purr is picked up by a clutch of telephones brandished like reporters’ microphones), and the globally broadcast game show “Deal or No Deal,” from which he borrows the trope of the mystery suitcase that is chosen by the contestant (the Fool in the tarot deck). Here, the suitcase opens to reveal not treasure but glowing apparitions of toxic-looking fruit (an allusion to slot machines?) and sometimes a leaping cat."
-Marcia E. Vetrocq, Art in America (1/11)

0 The Fool
0:42 min. Video Loop

V The Hierophant
0:53 min. Video Loop

X The Wheel of Fortune
3:28 min. Video Loop

XV The Devil
0:30 min. Video Loop

Process Documentation #trusttheprocess