Manifest Destiny, 2009
Seoul National University Museum of Art
Seoul, South Korea
July 1 - August 16, 2009
essay by David Pagel
The installation, Manifest Destiny, uses images from the 2006 Lebanon War and two films: Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch (1969). I am interested in how these films demonstrate the subtle sanctioning of dehumanization through an aestheticization of violence, a mechanism often at work in media coverage of war. Here, human presence and significance are delimited to the exact space allotted on the screen/image. My process of painting seeks to expose the dehumanization at work within these images through a relentless rendering of edges in shards of color, embedding subject into object, figure into ground. Like the notion of Manifest Destiny from America's westward expansion to space exploration, so its aesthetic equivalent manifests a realm of behavior where human suffering may be objectified into pristine, crystallized images.