Emotional Rescue: The Videos of Jesse McLean
Saturday July 14th, 8:00pm – 10:00pm
SAW Courtyard, 67 Nicholas Street


Community partner: Centre d’exposition L’Imagier


Jesse McLean’s videos re-purpose pre-existing images and sounds from popular culture, and also more generally the tropes and conventions of mainstream media, as a way of investigating the relationship between emotion and cinema. Her work looks at the causes of emotional states, the social functions of emotions, and the degree to which emotions can be captured and conveyed by films, television shows and music. With a keen awareness of how media conventions shape our responses and expectations, McLean’s videos implicate the role audiences play by participating in the viewing experience, supplying empathy and feeling for themselves as much as for the people represented on screen. She is fascinated with the idea of emotional release – the act of giving one’s self up to emotion, sometimes aided by faith or fantasy, and sometimes by will alone. By turns suspenseful, exciting, funny, sad, angry, sedate and frightening, McLean’s videos reveal how we feel when we watch each other feeling, and explore our desire to connect to something larger than ourselves. Infusing familiar imagery and sounds with strange and sometimes unsettling mystery, her work creates a fragmented but hopeful reflection of American society, a portrait of a culture driven by privilege, spectacle, religion, fandom and war.


Somewhere Only We Know (2009, 5 min.)
What can a face reveal? Balanced between composure and collapse, individuals anxiously await their fate.

Magic for Beginners (2010, 20.5 min.)
Magic for Beginners examines the mythologies found in fan culture, from longing to obsession to psychic connections. The need for such connections (whether real or imaginary) as well as the need for an emotional release that only fantasy can deliver are explored.


Lose Yourself (Remix) (2011, 5 min.)
A driving disco beat demands that you nod your head while an ever-shifting sunset doles out questionable advice culled from the top of the pop charts.


Relations (2010, 2.5 min.)
The ‘spinning newspaper’ trope is a clichéd cinematic device that is used both to introduce major events and show the passage of time in a film. In this piece, an illegible newspaper spins continuously towards the viewer, never arriving but guaranteeing the presence of a steady stream of information. Rather than deliver news, the endlessly spinning paper offers only the promise of constant change, both in the form of news and in the form of its delivery.


Clone (2009, 1.5 min.)

This video was installed as part of a solo exhibition titled Invisible Tracks, in which a variety of recent images of Iraq, all gleaned from varying Internet sources, are pulled apart, blurred, erased, delineated and reassembled in an effort to negotiate the convoluted relationship of spectatorship to empathy. The underlying structure of the application Adobe Photoshop, a popular software used for retouching and manipulating photographic images, is revealed by the representation of several procedural tools, such as the magic wand selector, the clone tool and the checkered backgrounds that connote transparency. Used to adjust the image prior to its final presentation (the final gesture of which is richly called “flattening”), and typically hidden from view, these tools instead become incorporated into the images, a reminder that these images are capable of being altered continuously, from the photojournalist’s chosen composition, to the method used to deploy the images, to the hand of the artist, myself.


The Burning Blue (2009, 9 min.)
The Burning Blue is a video that observes the thrill, terror and boredom found in watching mass spectacles and the unexpected loneliness when you miss them. Concerned with how we, as a culture, watch ourselves, especially in moments of great emotional significance, this video speaks of both the power and the failure of the televised experience to bind us to one another.


Remote (2011, 11 min.)
In the collage video Remote, dream logic invokes a presence that drifts through physical and temporal barriers. There is a presence lingering in the dark woods, just under the surface of a placid lake and at the end of a dreary basement corridor. It’s not easy to locate because it’s outside but also inside. It doesn’t just crawl in on your wires because it’s not a thing. It’s a shocking eruption of electrical energy.



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