Land Rearranged, 2018

Video (color, sound), Duration: 5:54 minutes

Video and images courtesy of the artist

Jasper Lee

Birmingham, Alabama

My video work explores shifts in the transmission of knowledge over time and is formed by a collision of magical thinking, storytelling, research and lyrical abstraction.  I use video to collage sounds and images in a way that reflects the fractured continuities, hybridization of culture, psychological processes and folk beliefs of people in the Appalachian foothills where I base my work.  I use formal cinematic tricks to represent magical thinking or the belief that one’s thoughts by themselves can bring about effects in the world.  In superstitious beliefs, causality is posited between ritual, prayer or sacrifice and an expected benefit.  I portray these causalities as if they were true and weave stories around them in the mediated form of a twenty-first century folktale.

Superstitions arise in situations of uncertainty and constitute a yearning for control over forces outside the self.  My work explores the gestural form of superstitious action as a grappling with the structures of time, power and the potency of materials.  The cinematographic framing in my pieces often focuses on the action of hands or is photographed from a character’s point of view.  I employ these techniques to allow a way for the audience to identify with the actions taking place on screen.  The arrangement of objects mimics the creative process as hands move things into new combinations.  Transformation occurs when, like the ingredients of a formula, the objects are arranged in a precise order and invested with value by delicate handling and accompanying language that conveys their symbolic weight.  What you give attention to will grow.

Unexpected sound-image associations serve to disorient the viewer and lure them further into the realm of the work and an altered perception of time.  My goal is for each viewing experience to create a space for the sacred observance of time.  Looping as a technical approach to both sound and image becomes a metaphor for ritual. The repetition of image creates a rhythm and rhythm offers an escape from the mundane present.  In much of my work I explore the tension between escape and interruption. A looped image or recurring sound may induce the audience into a semantic trance, but it may also become more significant with each recurrence; ripening with potential and expectation of meaning.