Friday, October 23, 2009

LIKENESS Video Series: Jonn Herschend

Today's installment in the LIKENESS Video Series (produced with love by MF Danny) comes from Jonn Herschend, an interdisciplinary artist, curator and experimental publisher preoccupied with how emotional confusion, absurdity and veracity play out in the realm of the everyday. He lives and works in San Francisco, and is the co-founder and co-editor, along with Will Rogan, of the experimental publication THE THING. Jonn was raised in a mid-western theme park in the Ozarks that his grandfather started. Later it was run by his father and uncle. Both of his parents were street performers and when Jonn was born, a sign was placed in his parents’ front yard that read, “Home of Jonn Herschend, future train robber.” According to Jonn that sign is still around.

Self Portrait as a PowerPoint Proposal for an Amusement Park Ride (2009)
projector, DVD player, self-running PowerPoint presentation, projection screen, leak in ceiling, buckets, plastic sheets, janitor closet, custodial items, 16 mm. projector with looper, portable projection screen
LIKENESS Exhibition - Through March 21, 2010

Herschend’s many-sided conceptual, Self Portrait as a PowerPoint Proposal for an Amusement Park Ride, is characterized by a strong sense of narrative, not strictly limited to straightforward vignettes or mimetic representation. In his complex self-portrait one finds a narrative that resembles fantasy, role-playing, fiction and a touch of reality. Jonn’s choice of subjects and materials contribute to the kind of story he opts to tell and show his audience. Jonn says about this piece:

The entire installation is a self-portrait...not one part. It’s both sides of the entertainment experience... the fantasy of the gallery and the hidden reality. It goes from the conceptual notion of a museum installation, to a disruption with the physical space (the leak in the ceiling), to a hidden and nostalgic projection of a true moment of complete innocence.

This is the first time I’ve ever really worked on a piece that referenced my affiliation with the amusement park of my past. For me, museums and galleries are very similar to amusement parks. They are where we come to experience a diversion from the real world. And we expect things to be a certain way.

From a formal aspect, the PowerPoint projection (an application used to supposedly make confusing issues clear) becomes bogged down and sidetracked with the introduction of an illicit affair and car wreck.

The black and white slides are spilling over with emotion, just as the physical building is failing and starting to leak. But in the Janitor’s closet, a place that is not formally on the map of a museum or gallery, the 16 mm projection is a translation of a moment (a true moment) where I recorded my daughter experiencing an amusement park ride with full and complete innocent joy (at the amusement park where I grew up). I wanted to transfer and translate the moment to a medium associated with memory and nostalgia.”

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