Thinking Hurts Too Much
The FIA recently acquired a video work titled Thinking Hurts Too Much (2013) by contemporary artist Cameron Gray (b. 1980), whose work was featured on the cover of ARTNews (December 2013) as an example of artists working in "The New Collage."
On a 64-inch flat-screen LCD monitor, a slowly scrolling video incorporates Internet footage, found, and manipulated, creating a panoramic collage of gyrating, pulsing, and writhing characters revealing America's—and the world's—insatiable desire for the sensational. The glut of disparate, disconnected, and disembodied figures, some real (like former California governor and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger and pop star Mariah Carey) and some imaginary (Peanuts cartoon character Charlie Brown and DC Comics' Batman), perform on layered keyhole stages, serving as a reminder of our profound knowledge of images aimed at the edge of acceptability and decency. The thousands of images pieced together become a provocative and poignant portrait of American excess and the constant desire for new and more extreme visual stimulation.
The video is an immersive experience that is constantly changing, as your eye moves from one focal point to the next, dancing across the screen that never stops moving. In this way, the artist envelops the viewer in a kinetic, psychedelic clamor of pop culture icons, putting us on a super highway of memory, both singular and shared. In doing so, Gray makes us aware of the passage of time as we witness the reactions of other viewers standing next to us—each responding to the images that are beyond our own experiences and reminding us of the separation that results from unshared memory.
Art blogger Adam Tetzloff describes Gray's work in this way: "Like the culture that inspired it, the work is an eye-melting overload of images and ideas, as if the Internet suddenly ruptured and spewed forth into the black light din of a Spencer's Gifts. At once whimsical and menacing, the overlapping, ever-shifting, neon barrage of sights and sound seems at first to border on satire, skewering pop culture and the tropes of contemporary art."
The video will be on view beginning in October.
Thinking Hurts Too Much, (detail), 2013
Video, monitor and media player
38 1/4 x 64 3/4 x 3 1/2 inches
Museum purchase with funds from the Collection Endowment, 2013.63