Rema Hort Mann Foundation

Nicole Miller

My work stems from the possibility representation allows for reconstitution. I find meaning lies for me in the moment of the reception of an image when it is viewed by an audience member and is thus transformed. At times I propose that active viewing can be used as a tool to reconstitute personal histories, or even one’s own body. To view is posited as an opportunity to receive, thus giving the audience power to manifest visual information within a new subjective reality. I highlight this system as similar to that of an orchestra receiving the performance of a conductor who is transmitting the information from a composer, eventually manifested into music in a production line of transmissions and interpretations. My video “The Conductor” stands as a foundational piece for me as it is based in visualizing this metaphor. As my performer, or conductor, is placed in the role of possibly representing representation itself, he becomes a figure of the multidimensional and ever-evolving nature of “The Image” in relation to reception, performance and time. The video is silent to allow the transmission of an unknown score to hold infinite potentiality. The conductor’s attempt at transmission is wide-ranging and undetermined, which results in a figure of pure agency that is not based in any one known character or identity. I find it important to let a space exist for my subjects to breathe by consciously permitting self- representation within cycles of viewing and creating. It is within this moment that the possibility of reconstitution through viewing and then actively editing/reediting information can be imagined. This is where I allow my work to exist, within a relationship, and in this way my work is purely collaborative.

In the video installation “Untitled,” (David and Darby) the aging son of a now dead film actor looks to reconstitute his relationship with his father through lost images from the cinema, taking on the cinematic and his familial history all in one grand gesture. I link this to a story told by a man while he literally is changing the mapping of his brain as he reconstitutes his lost arm by bringing it back into existence through a mirror image. My subject’s attachment to representation is problematic for it is burdened by an involvement with historical character and tropes that are oppositional to subjectivity or an attempt at self-representation. As in the example of the son viewing images of his father as voided zombie and crazed African chief in order to search for an example to emulate. With the confusion, pleasure, fantasy or even humiliation of identity being attached to representations in such a way, I locate in these characters a potential solace in acts of re-editing or mapping, perhaps to reach an understanding, hence, agency. In a recent installation “Daggering” I go further into understanding the humiliation motif by thinking about the thin line between a free and exuberant sexual exertion, performance and being unknowingly forced into a character one cannot identify with. I find a traumatic ataxia within this moment that I believe can be overcome by personal narrative or an intense subjectivity.

I find that more often than not, it is the passage of time that allows for a new edit or understanding of the potential of an image. This is where the use of appropriation and storytelling becomes vital to my practice. The horrific story of the loss of David’s arm does not ruin him perhaps because it is now thirty years after the traumatic event. He is able to beautifully immerse himself in the attempt to reconstitute his arm. In this same way, both his son and I can map out the images of Darby from terribly racist films from the 40s. In doing so the complexities of the story of a man’s job in Los Angeles 50 years ago, complexities beyond racial stereotype, come to light and CJ (his son) can find a vehicle –a space—within which to be proud of his visual history.