On October 29th 2015 I attended a gallery presentation titles “Dark Matters” which displayed works of art by Yvonne Buchanan. All of Buchanan’s art was created digitally, although she has experience drawing people as well. They all also had an underlined message about how western culture impacted african american culture through out history.
The first image at the top is a projection of what looks to be a coffin flying through space, the image next to it is a set of images taken from that projection and edited to have a more “digital” look. The coffin represents an african american who has died; the coffin being a symbol of death in the first place makes it a perfect for this piece’s message. The background being space is a representation of the afterlife; the fact that the coffin is flying through space implies that this person died and moved onto the afterlife. The digital re-designs of the image were made to make the coffin more “object-like” and to move it away from realism. The projection and digital images have a strong contrast between the coffin and the background, it helps add a depth to the image so the idea of the coffin flying through space is more believable.
The next two images are actually small projections of two different edited scenes from a T.V. show and a Movie. The first work is a distorted and slowed down opening of an old 1950’s T.V. show that starred an african american women who was portraying the black maid stereotype of that era. The distortion of this could possibly be a symbol of how the women acting as the stereotypical black maid was only seen as that an not actually as who she was; so her actual personality was unknown and distorted; just how the work is. The second projection was a heavily pixilated tap dance scene from the same era; it was said to be the best dance routine ever by many people. The pixilation could be a symbol for how the main focus is the routine and not necessarily the actors performing it.
The fifth image is a work which was another projection that was hidden in a scope-like object on the wall that the viewer would have to look into to see the piece. The work contains crows standing around in a nest with white dots over them. Back in the mid 1900’s (Most likely any time between 1940 and 1960) if someone wanted to draw a black stereotype as an anthropomorphic animal the popular choice would be to use crows; hence why crows were used in this to represent that stereotype and the white dots perhaps representing people who used crows as that stereotype. The fact that you had to look into a scope to see it is a symbol for how this stereotype was used in the media.
The final image is of another projection that shows an african american teen who has a speech bubble over him with what someone would consider to be african clothing patterns. The idea of this is to show how african americans don’t get to speak any languages associated with african countries without having to seek out learning it for themselves. There was another projection there as well that had no image but what audio from a song that is associated with african american culture that is about prayer; The songs lyrics had been taken out so the emotion of the person singing’s voice is focused upon which conveyed a sense of pain and sadness.
The digital aspect of all of these works can probably be a symbol of its own of how african americans were portrayed in the media in television’s past. The almost depressing matter of this is a definite portrayal of not only Buchanan’s views on this subject, but the modern generations views on this matter as well. Overall the work shown here was very original and was able to show what the message was in a clear, yet subtle way, making all the works of art very successful in what they were trying to convey to the viewers.