Marissa Lee Benedict + David Rueter

Works About

Marissa Lee Benedict (USA, 1985) and David Rueter (USA, 1978) began their collaborative partnership with the 2015 exhibition of Dark Fiber, a video projection depicting the artists laying a strand of unauthorized fiber optic cable. Since then, the artist team continues to work on the subjects of technology, the built environment, and the material culture of industry. From 2016-17 Benedict & Rueter received a National Endowment for the Arts "Art Works" grant for their collaborative project Gary Lights Open Works, developed under artist Jan Tichy's Heat Light Water Cultural Project in Gary, Indiana. They have collaboratively exhibited work at 68 Projects in Berlin (2019), Wrightwood 659 in Chicago (2019), the Venice Architecture Biennial (2018), and the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago (2016). Benedict was most recently a 2018-19 artist-in-residence at the Van Eyck Academie (Maastricht, NL); and currently acts a Co-Artistic and Executive Director of Ditch Projects in Springfield, OR while lecturing at the University of Oregon. Rueter is currently an Assistant Professor in Art & Technology at the University of Oregon.

Viewers entering our video installation, Dark Fiber, are greeted with scenes of us digging, burying, pulling, cutting, and otherwise installing a fiber-optic cable in the shadows of other, more visible, large-scale infrastructural works. Locations such as the US/Mexico border wall, Chicago-area petroleum refineries, and an Antwerp shipping canal segue into urban, then interior spaces, gradually reducing in scale and increasing in strangeness, until a tiny specialized machine cuts a single strand of fiber in a macro shot. The actual site of the video installation appears near the end of the loop, inviting viewers to see around the frame to find conduits at the edges of their vision, and to imagine filmic industrial worlds, frightening interior sites, and exhibition space as literally and uncannily connected. The video, which inaugurated our collaborative practice in 2015, is updated for each new showing, and as of this writing has traveled to six exhibitions around the world.

Our subsequent work also springs from historical, technical, and material research into industrial processes and infrastructure, including municipal and private water containment systems; petroleum extraction, refinement and circulation; so-called “smart” urban lighting infrastructure; and the physical structures that embed the circulation of global capital. We do not document, demystify, or recuperate these material grammars from some imaginary outside, but instead intercept them, align ourselves with them, and push and pull from the inside to coax them into saying a bit too much. In the excess that spills out, one might encounter unexpected affinities, the cumulative weight of slow violence, denial and remorse sublimated into equipment, the fragilities of abstractions that hide too much, or the unclosed potentials of life and play in the margins.