2013 MFA Thesis Exhibition Series: Meghan Allynn Johnson

Installation shot of A Private Voyage

Installation shot of A Private Voyage

The short segments of video in A Private Voyage are based on the use of the automobile as a classic cinematic motif that prompts narrative travel, and bridges discrete narrative parts.  The segments quote from classic cinema, notably Hitchcock’s Psycho, and Roberto Rossellini’s Voyage to Italy to create a cyclical vortex of automotive and narrative travel with no beginning, middle, and end.  Rather than creating a linear structure, the video loops to act as background chatter of vestigial traces of familiar narrative tropes broadcast haphazardly into the installation.

The painted backdrop is left as an abstraction – another floating and liminal trace.  It exists somewhere between an asphalt road and a possible entry point into an ethereal space – either cosmic or cinematic.  The reflective surface is made using real glass road beads, which are originally intended for use in highway road-line construction.  In this installation, they shimmer or disappear according to the viewer’s stance and angle of vision.

By referencing the hand-made qualities of both the video and the painting, I intend to reflect the properties of their construction, lending multiple views to what would initially be viewed as an illusion – painterly or cinematic.  In the video, static objects become falsely brought to life, anxiously straddling the threshold of believability, and reflecting the process of applying meaning to the act of viewing moving images.  In the painting, the viewer’s relationship to the picture plane alters the viewing experience – referencing the body in motion, as well as the critical stance from which the viewer perceives the imagery.

Installation shot of A Private Voyage

Installation shot of A Private Voyage

Installation shot of A Private Voyage

Installation shot of A Private Voyage

Through absurdly animating the inanimate, through constructing humble and handmade screens, and always revealing the apparatus of the projector the subject’s ability to fully enter the imagery, the viewer’s awareness of their existence as separate from the encompassing illusion enters the narrative.  In this state of rupture between the self and the external subject, a psychological feeling like a kind of exile through the re-embodiment of one’s self as distinctly separate from what they see is presented. This state is also described by Simone DeBeauvoir as joy.

By Meghan Allynn Johnson (June 14, 2013)

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