Prominent American Ghosts is the very palpable result of the unremitting work of artist Dillon DeWaters. Even though he hasn’t slept much as he’s been preparing the photography and video installation, I can tell he feels good about what he has made, and he should. The show clearly conveys a lingering melancholy left from the residue of information and technology, yet is not heavy handed or oppressive. The bright color bars of his large, glossy, photographic piece encapsulates all of what each color summons in the collective consciousness of our society. Subjects in both pictures and video tell stories about image culture and it’s icons; so ever-present that we are no longer aware of where they came from. Dillon’s methods of making both the video material and photographic images consists of over-lapping and layering technologies, as well as original and appropriated image sources. The accumulative soundtrack is from each of the videos playing simultaneously and include music he made in past. The convergence of analog and digital methods create unfamiliar distortions of well-known images, which push our recognition of visual culture to the fringe of experience.
His practice is also a direct metaphor for how one technology quickly replaces another and our experience as human beings is tied in closely with quickly relinquishing the obsolete for the new. A photograph Dillon took of the iconic house from the Alfred Hitchcock film, “The Birds,” sits on several t.v. screens in sync and are slowly intercepted and spliced with choppy and fragmented visuals from the film itself. As the screens loop the footage slowly falls out of sync with each other. The familiar image of “Nessie,” the loch ness monster has been generated from multiple digital and analog photographs as the meaning of the original image can no longer be conceived. As one image comes after another, expressed in the endless onslaught of technologies, we are left grasping and feeling the loss of the physicality that once was.
Dillon doesn’t see this as a mourning though, at least, not in the conventional sense. It is not meant to be a funeral procession. One small television screen towards the back shows pockets of his earlier work, slowly being engulfed by flames. To him, this is symbolic of recognizing that as everything slowly deteriorates and moves out of sync, it is important to move forward and not settle as an artist; to keep making new work.
He was so tired after the final installation of the videos that his girlfriend, Sarah, took over programing the universal remote controlling all the videos. When she was finished, she handed it over so he could push the play button. All of the five videos he had worked on arduously, appeared in their right places and time. He made passing comment that it could have been the most satisfying moment of his life.