Going, Going, Gone

Mariam Ghani, Going Going Gone, video, 2009
Going, Going, Gone (RT 4:25, color, stereo) video still, 2009

Going, Going, Gone is a fugue on empty space in New York: abandoned “warehoused” buildings, foreclosed houses, empty lots circled by chain-link fences, schools being demolished, condos going begging, stores holding perpetual sales, restaurants going out of business, and all the other signs of the dreams of plenty collapsing—composed of photographs shot and sound bites aired on TV and radio news in fall 2009, at the height of the US market collapse. It was originally produced for public projections in Berlin and Amsterdam as part of a series of commissioned works about borders, commemorating the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Mariam Ghani, Going Going Gone, video, 2009
Going, Going, Gone installed in the U-Bahn at Kochstrasse (Checkpoint Charlie) for Visual Foreign Correspondents Berlin

Because the piece was intended for projection on a series of different urban screens with different conditions (some with sound, some without; in one case looping continuously in a metro station, in another screened only once), the video both fits in with the surrounding environment of print and video ads, and also playfully subverts their codes and messages, by including signage re-photographed in various states of degradation or framed within larger architectural/ spatial contexts. The video also has many, many quick cuts and internal loops-with-differences, so that the commuters faced with endless loops would be able to find something new in repeat viewings. It is also a video that reads quite differently viewed with or without sound, for those who might encounter it on two different types of urban screen. So each loop contains the same sequence of more than 300 images, patterned so that you see four images for five frames each, then one image (the key shot) for 20 frames. But in each loop the pattern is shifted so that the key shots, the only shots onscreen long enough to be “read” as information, are different.

Mariam Ghani, Going Going Gone still
Going, Going, Gone (RT 4:25, color, stereo), video still, 2009

Each loop is also juxtaposed with a new set of audio samples. The shift in focus and change in soundtrack are intended to suggest three different ways to interpret the same set of images. The flip-flip-flip-flip-pause rhythm, combined with the sources and editing of the audio samples, echo the effect of the “seek” button on a car radio, flipping through multiple takes on the news of the day. Without the audio, the video functions as a rush of impressions that rewards repeated viewings with accretion of information and connections. With the audio, the video acquires an additional framework that allows for a single viewing to distill at least some of the content and context.

The theme of the new economic “border” and those left on the wrong side of it can be located primarily in the counterpoint between image and sound, which emphasizes the ever-widening gap between New York’s rich and poor, speculators and squatters, homeless and holders of home loans. The title of the video is a riff on Marie Menken’s Go! Go! Go! (1962–1964), an ode to New York City animated from single frames of film, and the “Going, Going, Gone!” sign commonly seen in the windows of United States stores during clearance sales.

Mariam Ghani, Going Going Gone, video installation, Collegium Hungericum, Berlin, 2009
Going, Going, Gone on the urban screen at Collegium Hungaricum, Berlin, 2009