Talking to Jonathan Chapline

Question: Tell to me about “Found Identities”

“Found Identities”, my newest series of work, relates my own personal memories to those of found, discarded photographs. The anonymous snapshots of unknown subjects invoke a response to my own memories, allowing for a reinterpretation and revitalization of the older captures.

The photographs that I interpret and base my work upon are utilized as a method of appropriating memory vs. the loss of memory through the discarding of an antique image. Scenery, backdrops and atmospheres portrayed in the past images invoke a familiar response. This context allows me to create a reinterpretation and invention that imposes my memories and experiences into new imagery. The work becomes a way of questioning the past and the way things have been remembered. Through my acquisition of the lost and revitalization of those past experiences, I am reframing them through my new vision of the event, allowing me to impose a new vantage point.

Question: Tell me about “Bedroom Door”

“Bedroom Door” is a video depicting an installation set out to create spaces and objects out of ersatz construction materials (foamcore for sheetrock, for example). By making use of this form of theatrical presence, I entreat the viewer to suspend his or her disbelief and enter into a fictional world that is intended to sit within what is commonly referred to as the “uncanny valley”: the place where a representation’s proximity to reality fosters a sense of uneasiness in the person experiencing it.

The theatricality, attained through lighting and other special effects, becomes the catalyst for this decision. In order to draw the viewer closer to the moment, the use of menacing orange smoke billowing from underneath a real readymade door alludes to a cinematic horror show, or at least, a fire safety instructional tableau. At the same time, my set pieces contain enough intentional flaws, moments of shoddy construction, and cheap special effects to continue to return the viewer to the awareness that what they’re experiencing is, in fact, a fiction, and a highly flawed one at that.


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