Jonathan Monaghan, ‘Mothership’, 2013, bitforms gallery
Jonathan Monaghan, ‘Mothership’, 2013, bitforms gallery
Jonathan Monaghan, ‘Mothership’, 2013, bitforms gallery

Jonathan Monaghan creates sculpture and animated video installations that challenge the boundaries between the real, the imagined, and virtual. The video "Mothership" appropriates characters and objects from science fiction, advertising, videogames and art history. Funny and colorful, Monaghan's work travels a space between Super Mario's Rainbow Road, the landscape of German romantic painting, and the Technodrome in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Absurdly pulling together disparate populist imagery that evokes value, power and technology, it fuses luxury apartments and medical operating rooms, as well as the London skyline and a sacred cow.

Video Excerpt:

Working with similar techniques used in commercial CGI animation and special effects, "Mothership" seamlessly combines elements from science fiction, video games and art history into a 15 minute cinematic loop. References range from Rainbow Road in Super Mario Kart 64 to German Romantic landscape painting to the Technodrome from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Funny and colorful, almost superficial, but at the same time based on a deep analysis of the history of art and politics, with an emphasis on wealth and power structures. Monaghan reverses the meaning and function of objects and characters, embezzling not only the elements and protagonists of pop culture, and advertising, but also their subconscious strategies that elicit a particular response in us. The immediate familiarity granted by his imagery hacked from our cultural landscape mediates the surreal foreignness of his aesthetic, creating a nightmarish edge in which we remain trapped in an endless loop of seductive but ultimately vacuous simulation where meanings don’t quite materialize.

About Jonathan Monaghan

To create his CGI animations, Jonathan Monaghan mines and appropriates the characters and environments from the video games of his youth, as well as incorporating references to art history, Wall Street, consumer products, and other aspects of contemporary culture. “Pitting these ridiculous-looking video game characters and environments with recreations of real, “evil” power is very much what I was doing,” he has said. “By trying to create a coherent reality or a narrative where these absurd manifestations of power interact with actual power structures, my viewers can approach how power works through a different lens.” He likens this process of appropriation and reinterpretation to hacking—pulling images from culture and reversing their meaning, so that they subvert the very structures that produced them.

American, b. 1986, New York, New York, based in Washington, D.C.

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