Institutionalized was my MFA thesis show at Art Center College of Design's South Campus Raymond Gallery, and my defense occurred on the day after Barack Obama was elected president. The title referred to my impending bona fides and status endorsed by my degree earned from that place of higher learning, the styles and historical status/baggage used (Op and AbEx) in the making of the work, and my mental health/state of mind after going through the rigorous intellectual crucible of art school.
The video animation installation I Want to Break Free (6' x 8' x 27') was designed to make the American flag a kind of barred cage of reflection during a time of what seemed like euphoric release. Inside at night the window reflected the viewer caught in this rolling cage as gestalts of soldiers in fatigues catapulted themselves against red bars, creating impacts with exploding stars. During the day this "videogame fresco" raged on in broad daylight in a hubristic attempt to "beat up the sun." On a larger scale, in the context of two ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the movement of this work reflects the strategies the US Government was using to fight the wars: a) throw stuff up against the wall until something sticks and b) throw money one doesn't necessarily have at the problem. In this way I Want to Break Free demonstrates battles against the self, where expectations and outcomes become a crushing ideological infinity loop when lessons learned are ignored, contained in a commercial-style gallery base built like a concrete bunker.
Untitled Black and White, the monochrome single channel animation video projection, 8' x 6', was the beacon drawing the viewer down the hall into the cage. an example of the more process-oriented abstraction wing of my work -- it's my first TRUE painting-in-motion. My goal was to make a video that functioned as a painting using all the things that first, make paintings PAINTINGS; and second, what make paintings a spatial experience: proximity, luminosity, framing, horizon, proportion, tactility, surface, back light, actual paintmarks, etc. Untitled B/W is also an example of a work which -- as in later works such as Triangulation (2012) -- abstractly performs a characteristic outside narrative. In this case, the characteristic is one of dodging and avoiding the gaze of the viewer through physical movement and racked (blurred) focus between layers. This is also reminiscent of how a viewer's eyes move through and across action painting, except in this case the situation is reversed: the painting moves itself before your eyes can catch up, slowing down a short forty second duration loop into a longer read, that of ongoing painting time. I have been working with these notions of performative characteristics in abstraction without resorting to anthropomorphism ever since. And I've also been told it's sexy to boot!