Art & Statement: Deep Trouble by Corey Escoto
Deep trouble is mostly comprised of 8×10″ Impossible instant film (polaroid) prints. The works are made through a multiple exposure process of cutting stencils through which I expose the film, section by section until the the film is completely exposed. The resulting image is comprised of many images from many scenes which in the end build the illusion of something else — in this case, simple text images of Hollywood film tropes.
I started making these photos last summer while in residence as a fellow at Kala Institute of Art in Berkeley, CA. While continuing to explore a process that would draw on an interesting relationship with sculpture in recent shows, such as “Sleight of Hand,” at Carnegie Museum of Art, and “Inversion Spectrum” at Halsey Mckay, I was interested still in building a photographic illusion, but in a way that would operate quite differently. These (Deep Trouble) photos in my mind are much more in dialogue with contemporary painting approaches. I see it as furthering the never ending dialogue between photography and painting, with influences such as Laszlo Moholy-Nagy and Henri Cartier-Bresson, as well Scott Reeder and Chris Wool.
Painting radically shifted course upon the disruption and invention of photography, and now analog photography is being displaced by the efficiency and speed of the digital process. With this in mind, the material (in this case analog instant film) calls out to be explored in its physicality both in terms of process as well as form. This medium is quite effective and appropriate for constructing an illusion. Whereas Hollywood relies on a high production volume of sets, actors, extras, soundtrack, costume, and lighting, these photos operate by subverting the perceived reliability as a truthful medium. The photographs loosely adhere to a sequential narrative while each image stands alone as a stereotypical character type, allusion to plot, or scene. In the case of Deep Trouble, the photographs coalesce to form an action film sequence complete with “High Speed Chase,” an “Alpha Male” character as well as “Risky Behavior.”
A wall graphic film still enlargement of Robert Patrick as the imposter officer /T-1000 cyborg assassin from Terminator 2, one of Arnold Schwarzenegger and James Cameron’s best, rounds out the front room. The police officer image reinforces the junior high concept of “Deep Trouble” while lending a bit of dark comic relief. Hopefully this graphic imparts the viewer with what I feel was the lasting impact of Terminator 2, which were the musings on dark side of artificial intelligence, nuclear paranoia, and the intense marketing of such a film.
Perhaps the work that is simultaneously most jarring and emblematic of over the top Hollywood spectacle is “Multiple Explosions.” This phrase accurately describes most any Hollywood action scene where one improbable and explosive action sequence is one-upped by the next, ad infinitum. In movies such as Terminator 2, and for many action and sci-fi films today, the spectacle is the point, or at least a significant part of the point. Viewers often cite CGI (computer graphic imagery) and by extension the mechanics of illusion, as a reason to see the film. Spectators just want to be fooled.
However in our time, lives, and political context, which seems to be rooted in perpetual unending conflict, terrorism (foreign and domestic), deadly protest, and the media’s role in both dispersing and hollowing out such information, the phase and idea of “Multiple Explosions” no longer seems out of the realm of possibility, not limited to the theater or the crafted illusion.
I recently went to see Jurassic World with a friend. I heard it was terrible and we knowingly paid for our ticket and pop-pop-popcorn anyway. This experience was to be one of the most unsettling moments in recent memory, not because anything that happened in the movie, but because of recent shootings at theaters all across the country. 30-40 minutes into the film, the movie went dark and a prerecorded safety intercom repeatedly alerted us to find our way to the nearest exit. As the confused public silently and fearfully moved toward and opened the emergency doors, we were greeted with sirens emanating from the large cineplex parking lot. With no signs of fire, ambulance, or an immediately discernible reason for the emergency evacuation, many (like my friend and I) walked quickly to our cars, fleeing the scene, not wanting to find ourselves in yet another destabilizing situation which further displaced us from our expectations of normality and safety. We would later find out that while no acts of physical terrorism had taken place, it is unquestionable that the psychological effects of distant threats were at play and this uncanny experience was somehow not unlike the tone of the photographs that were beginning to take form.
“Deep Trouble” will be on view at Regina Rex, 221 Madison St.
New York, NY 10002, from September 9 – October 18, 2015.
Acid Rain’s Art & Statement series places artwork alongside the artists own words in an effort to distribute and promote artists’ writings and a greater understanding of contemporary processes and ideas.