© 2003-2016

Totemic Taxonomies, 2014 (Collaborative Exhibition with Cathleen Faubert)
Various Media

When looking for contemporary totems, we are immediately drawn to clear potentials that highlight relationships to the animal as a type of emblematic guide. For instance, sports fans’ identify with team mascots, pre-teens identify with ‘Hello Kitty’, and the social media service ‘Twitter’ promotes a bird that appears to be a Black-Naped Monarch. We are interested in spectacular, carnival environments where such animals are both real and hyper-real, or virtual, characters. For example, we are looking at the orca of amusement sea parks and white tigers from Las Vegas magic shows.

Cowboys and Indians, 2014
Video Still

This video emphasizes a sense of plasticity regarding subjective and cultural projections onto objects. When considering totemic qualities, the ‘Cowboy and Indian’ character roles have served to guide suggestive assumptions about identity in the United States. These assumptions have been questioned with considerable weight in recent decades revealing the plastic nature involved with our processes for recording history.

Bunnies, 2014
Custom Electronics, Toy Bunnies, Carrot

The bunnies are activated when a viewer touches a carrot located at their control box.

Moo, 2014
Custom Electronics, Toy Cows, Toy Mooing Cans, Paper, Paint, Wood

The totemic cow has long symbolized a nurturing and mothering quality. The ‘totemic cow’ of the 21st century is a milking cow with iconic black spots. This cow occupies a space that continues to suggest nurturing through calcium-based healthy teeth campaigns, while also suggesting a forewarned experience of biological mechanization and homogenization (cattle ranches).

Orca, 2014
Digital Video

An orca in a constant, oscillating spin that highlights the animal as an object. Furthermore, the orca is trapped out of water where its performativity contradicts the location where its custodial [totemic] space is effective, the sea. The video is displayed with an orca skull, which considers our curiosity with oddities as real objects collide with our virtualized assumptions.

Star Wars Toys, 2006
Video, Star Wars Toys Collected in 1980's

A box of Star Wars action figures I collected as child are paired a video of the toy collection.

Many children invest compulsive totemic identifications into virtual, or absent figures when they collect and play with dolls such Barbie, G.I. Joe, or Star Wars. This mode of play indicates a discontinuity between a concrete possession and the fantasized, or virtual connection. As adults, our narratives of selfhood might be considered internalized forms of these early totemic moments, or the virtualization of the toy action figures; consequently, an adult’s totemic persona is an uncertain interplay between a virtual guide and the self as avatar.

Totemic Taxonomies, 2014
Various media

These works are grouped to highlight a curiosity with totems in the twenty first century. If totemism is a system within which connections or kinships are formed between beings, such as plants, animals and humans, then what function could a ‘totem’, as object or symbol, represent within our current world? It is clear that much of the developing world has been experiencing a sense of information overload in recent decades. We are looking for connections to possibly ‘totemic’ relations developing within relative global conditions.