Institutionalized
2 video animation installation, Art Center South Campus Raymond Gallery
Untitled B/W, 8' x 6' (2.6 m x 2 m) + I Want To Break Free, 6' x 8' x 21'
(2 m x 2.6 m x 7 m), ambient audio only, 2008 rt: 3 minutes

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institutionalized: vimeo

Institutionalized was my MFA thesis show at Art Center College of Design. 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 that was art school. My thesis defense took place one day after Barack Obama was elected 44th President of the United States.

I Want To Break Free: this video animation installation was designed to make the American flag a kind of barred cage.

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 the videogame fresco-in-motion 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 strategies I was forced to use to get through art school and the strategies the US Government were using to fight the wars seemed similar: 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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

***The ACCD MFA program's definition of freedom felt like a yoke around my neck, the style of the program at the time something that I wanted to physically break (aka insanely expensive, verbally abusive, undermining, soul-destroying, reverse-sexist, reductive and demoralizing favoritism). As such, this work was my best revenge against one specific painting "teacher" (who refused to discuss it during my thesis defense, that chickenshit) and has driven my practice ever since BECAUSE IT WORKS. "All I wanted was a [scholarship] / and [they] wouldn't give it to me!"

 

MATT SHERIDAN

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Matt Sheridan contemporary artist website

i make paintings and painting-in-motion video installations in public + private architectural sites and contemporary art spaces worldwide.

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all work on this site © 2013 Matt Sheridan