New Paper Views

"Fragile Moments" and "Screen Shots," two separate exhibits at ASU, tie disparate childhood memories together

The virtual-appearing computerized results, with their eerie bird's-eye views, finger-long cast shadows and unexpected perspectives, remove us from the horror of the easily identifiable incidents depicted, just as violent video games quickly desensitize the player to their gruesomeness.

Homages to such media-pumped historical personages and events as "Unabomber" Ted Kaczynski, the death of Princess Diana in a car crash in Paris, the Nicole Brown-Simpson/Ron Goldman murders and the self-immolation of a Buddhist monk protesting against the regime of South Vietnam are mixed in with images from popular American films such as The Sound of Music, Mary Poppinsand The Godfather.By interjecting fictional cinematic scenarios with scenes taken from historical events, Haddock blurs the boundaries between reality and fabrication even further, leading us to question our own experiential memories.

In The Lorraine Motel, we get a completely different take on the shooting of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., though we instantly recognize the event to which the image refers. In Elián, the artist has created a cutaway, dollhouselike view of FBI agents wresting Elián Gonzalez at gunpoint from the arms of a would-be protector cowering in a closet. The lone figure confronting a tank in Wang Weilin is based on notorious television images beamed from China in 1989 during the bloody political protests in Beijing's Tiananmen Square. Cafeteria reworks one of the bizarre scenes of the senseless student shootings at Columbine High School; it depicts cups of Pepsi and lunches left on empty cafeteria tables, pink chairs in disarray around them as two gun-wielding figures assess the deserted eating area.

Jyung Mee Park's Untitled includes four large but delicate lotus forms in paper.
Jyung Mee Park's Untitled includes four large but delicate lotus forms in paper.
John Haddock interprets the federal government's infamous entry to take young Elián Gonzalez from his Cuban relatives in Miami in Elián.
John Haddock interprets the federal government's infamous entry to take young Elián Gonzalez from his Cuban relatives in Miami in Elián.

Details

Continues through Sunday, November 5, in the Turk Gallery. Free. Hours: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays, 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays. 480-965-2787
Arizona State University Art Museum's Nelson Fine Arts Center, 10th and Mill, Tempe

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The violent images on which Haddock's "Screenshots" drawings are based are all too familiar to most Americans, as well as the rest of the world by now. Burned into our psychological hardwiring by years of repetition in all types of media, these images might be considered archetypal remnants of ancestral experience that famed Swiss psychologist Carl Jung claims are an ingrained part of a society's collective unconscious. For better or worse, they're a part of our national, maybe even global psyche at this point, just as the lotus form is for Eastern cultures.

To be expected, there's a real outlaw edge to Haddock's appropriation of iconic photographs that clearly have been copyrighted, though his images have been manipulated enough to quell any claim of intellectual property rip-off. His computer-generated constructs are, in many ways, a faithful reflection of the outsider nature of the Internet itself, that shadowy cyberworld in which amoral hackers worm into our virtual lives, violating our privacy and upsetting the balance in the process. In Haddock's work, however, the question arises as to who really owns these images of our experience of history. Who, in fact, can "own" cultural experience?

Though only mildly interesting when viewed on a computer monitor, Haddock's digital drawings grow more powerful -- and much creepier -- when enlarged, printed and framed for viewing in person. Face to face, the five-color digital laser prints of the artist's carefully rendered images look more like delicate, pointillist pastels than mechanically generated, pixelated reproductions. Presentation on a monitor obscures the minute detail of facial expressions, the elongated shadows cast by out-of-frame objects and the soft, ambiguous glow of the artist's grayed-down palette -- all of which add a certain sinister air to the work. After seeing Haddock's drawings in person, we have every reason to believe that art, up close and personal, will never be supplanted by its shadow flickering from a screen.

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