Jesse McLean – Guest Curation, June 2017

katy_albert Jesse McLean is a media artist motivated by a deep curiosity about human behavior and relationships, and concerned with both the power and the failure of the mediated experience to bring people together. Recent videos put pressure on the ways emotions are lived in an age of mediated experience. Her new body of work is more specifically connected to the fraught relationships people have with computers, technology we both rely on and resent. Her work has been exhibited at museums, galleries, and film festivals worldwide. She was the recipient of an International Critics Prize, (FIPRESCI Prize) at the Internationale Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen and a Jury Prize in the International Competition at the 2013 Videoex Festival and received a MacDowell Fellowship in 2016. She is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Film, Video, Animation and New Genres in the Peck School of the Arts at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
 
jessemclean.com

 
YouTube as a distribution site for slick videos has never really interested me, but I love the access it provides, and the opportunities to see unexpected and amateur visions, and archival rarities. I don’t subscribe to any YouTube channels or follow anyone, and I can still recall how incredible its arrival was. I’m still slightly amazed that someone can put their odd shaky video of two rabbits watching each other online and get views. What is appealing to me are the amateur videos, with their moments of clumsiness, poignancy and unexpected beauty. But I’ve selected only one “amateur” video, the others are documents or excerpts. The loose theme is people and technology, which seems to be my constant artistic interest. 


AT&T Archives: Design Line Fashions

Do your tastes run to the contemporary or a period piece? These phone designs are quite flamboyant, and though essentially a commercial, I love the dramatic reenactments and electronic music that underscores this video. So much effort to promote these analog phones, where are they now? The Sculptura is my favorite…


The Artist and the Computer

A short documentary about artist Lillian Schwartz. We’re provided nice excerpts from her animations and also hear her contextualize and explain her work, process and her relationship to computer technology. Because it was made in 1976, even the “talking head” shots are good and weird and the score is awesome.


I’m alive from Xanadu

This sequence made a big impression on me as a child, it was truly fantastic. I was obsessed with Greek/Roman mythology, so seeing the muses brought to life, dancing and on roller-skates, in sunny California, and all bathed in the orchestral pop of ELO was heavenly. I can’t rightly recommend the entire film, but this musical sequence I will gladly share. The special effects are still incredible.  


Wild rabbit wants in NOW!!!

One of the most attractive aspects of YouTube is getting to see home videos that are about documenting an unexpected event. I also love amateurism. This video spoke to me for its length of engagement and its content; a wild rabbit desperate to get inside and be with the domesticated rabbit, a human shakily recording the entire episode, the realization that there are many more wild rabbits beyond the glass door. I mean, how metaphoric can you get?


Dancing in the Street // Silent Music Video

I know it’s popular but in the slim chance you haven’t seen it, just do it. The sound design is awfully creative and quite impressive. I personally love the detailed foley work, how ambience is used to sculpt the environment(s) and their bold use of multiple hard audio cuts. The fact that they don’t have good voices only adds to the experience. This original music video is so odd anyway, and this Jagger/Bowie cover was always the pits. What an improvement! The eighties, amirite? Amazing.