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Total Recall, by Gretchen Bender, 1987

Gretchen Bender, Artist
Total Recall , 1987

8-channel video installation: 24 monitors, 3 projections, color, sound
18:00 min.
Credit Line
Estate of Gretchen Bender. Installation view at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; photography by Brian Forrest

Evocative of the effects of a highly coordinated, techno-military image industry, Total Recall takes the form of a kind of electronic theater, one using familiar icons and effects culled from mass culture. Bender borrowed the title for the work after reading in Variety magazine that a film was being made based on the Philip K. Dick short story. Viewers see appropriated clips from Oliver Stone's film Salvador (1986), Olympic athletes, military fighter jets, and corporate logos from American companies like GE and CBS, among other things. The onslaught of images enacted through Bender's pioneering use of quick editing—carried along by a soundscape composed by Stuart Argabright—gestures to deep structural patterns and belief systems that govern the image stream. Bender coined the term sense-around to describe the heightened responsiveness that she aimed to engender through her media installations. Like many of her peers in the 1980s, Bender was concerned with the media landscape, but rather than extract and distill, she chose to multiply and amplify.