"Lost" (2007-08):


Lost explores gaps in personal memory and universal consciousness that have been filled in by popular culture detritus.

I often have the sinking feeling that I have lost something. This is not only the dreadful realization that my keys, wallet, and cell are suddenly not in my hand, but also the idea that certain memories, experiences, and images are being sucked into a black hole in my consciousness. For example, certain moments seem to have completely evaporated from my memory: "who was that person", "what had I felt then", "what had really transpired"? We also experience a sense of loss on a more universal level: a lost sense of security, the loss of innocence, lost youth, love, history, the loss of resources and species, etc. In our contemporary media and consumer based existence, many of us seem to be experiencing a societal malaise; a feeling that there are empty holes in our existence that we can't fill or satisfy.

Many of the gaps in memory, both short and long term, are filled in by snip-bits from the mass media and popular culture machine. My own experiences have been infused by the Disney aesthetic and morality that was permanently embedded in my occipital cortex as a child. Pinocchio's nose, a spoon full of sugar, the gaggle of dwarfs, and the magic feather are all signifiers and symbols of my personal history. I grew with an unrealistic happily-ever-after complex. A prince in shining armor was going to scoop me up amidst a symphony of singing cartoon birds and I was going to raise a family of talking animals in the woods. The cheery implications of "happily ever after" are at odds, however, with the underlying dark subject matter Lost, illustrating the humorous yet disturbing ironies representational of my own life, as well as, of the larger North American reality. The malaise of modern existence seems to be peppered with a misguided sense that the state of the world will be fixed by a potion concocted by Hollywood magic.

In Lost voids or holes in the main image are embedded with new images; an attention shift, that changes both the context and the concept of the work. The works bring into question both the solidity of the image and inherent meanings therein. The viewer's sense of reality wavers in viewing them, as personal memories are triggered by the suggested popular media characters and everyday objects and symbols. A surrealist Alice in Wonderland looking glass space is created, echoing the sporadic nature of brain activity as brain paths are disrupted but then reconnected in endless firings and mis-firings of information.

Why does the brain decide to remember certain details and disregard others? Are we in control of our own memories or are they influenced and mutated over time by external environments, cultures and the popular media machine? As a collective consciousness what should we be choosing to remember or to forget?

all content © Lisa Birke 2015