"John Baldessari's 1987 work titled The Fallen Easel is made up of nine framed panels containing fragmentary images that seem to add up as a complex non sequitur. The lone diagonal panel shows a grayscale screen print of an easel laying on the ground, while other panels show faces and hands that are sometimes obscured by ovals of bright flat colors. Clearly, we see a rebus of sorts, but its substitution of picture-fragments for a syllogistic circuit remains just outside of the grasp of routine readability. Mentally reassembling them does not help, and the narrative context that would enable the work to be analyzed in the manner of a dream is missing. We can only conclude that the relationship between the work's diverse elements is one of an evocative and visually stylish provisionality, but we remain haunted by it, for it keeps us coming back in search of the key that will unlock its beguiling mystery of allegorical displacements and substitutions. Yes, this is an update of a kind of surrealism, but there is something else going on here as well, something pertaining to the typical psychological distance created by mass media imagery striped of its pretense of narrative coherence. All at once, the linked histories of Surrealism, Pop Art, Conceptual Art and Postmodernism flash before our eyes. We are not in Kansas anymore, but is unclear exactly where we are or where anything else is for that matter."
(Mark Van Proyen, November 2009, art ltd. magazine)
Fig.1 John Baldessari (1987). "The Fallen Easel" colour lithograph and screenprint in five parts printed on paper and aluminium plates. Collection of Jordan D. Schnitzer. Photo: courtesy of Legion of Honor Museum.
"Ward's 'What Dreams May Come,' starring Robin Williams was nominated for production design in addition to winning an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects. The film, tells an epic love story of soul mates separated by death. The story would inspire Ward to envision the afterlife as a painted world, incorporating state-of-the-art, adapted, and entirely new visual effects technologies in an original, fully articulated, filmic view of imagined realms that may await us after death."
"A winner of the Cannes Film Festival 1973, 'Fantastic Planet' is a full length animated fantasy set on the planet of the Draags in a far-off solar system where humans are kept as pets by a race of huge blue creatures."
(Alice in Videoland)
Fig.1-8 René Laloux and Roland Topor (1973). 'Fantastic Planet/La Planète Sauvage'. France: 72 mins.
Hu Jieming's "highly acclaimed photo-manipulated images Raft of the Medusa (2002) he references to Théodore Géricault's seminal and allegorical image, the Raft of the Medusa (1819). The historical painting serves as a mytho-poetic memorial of the 150 lost souls onboard the raft after a fatal shipwreck, from which only 15 survived. The painting very elegantly undermines the traditional heroic 19th century historical painting, and, instead, conveys a society in sinking collapse. Hu Jieming parallels this historic occurrence to the regime of the Cultural Revolution with all its sinister cruelty. His Raft of the Medusa, thus, is more than just a reference to the past: The photos are composed of today's excessive amount of consumer goods and advertisement imagery. Additionally, Hu Jieming juxtaposes pictures of today's youth in gestures of self-indulgent hedonism with monochrome grey pictures of the suppressed people in traditional mao-uniforms. These compositions made of images appropriated from different socio-political realities signify a strong critical engagement with both history and the present - it is a concern ranging beyond pure private considerations."
"Behold! human beings living in a underground cave, which has a mouth open towards the light and reaching all along the cave; here they have been from their childhood, and have their legs and necks chained so that they cannot move, and can only see before them, being prevented by the chains from turning round their heads. Above and behind them a fire is blazing at a distance, and between the fire and the prisoners there is a raised way; and you will see, if you look, a low wall built along the way, like the screen which marionette players have in front of them, over which they show the puppets.
And now look again, and see what will naturally follow if the prisoners are released and disabused of their error. At first, when any of them is liberated and compelled suddenly to stand up and turn his neck round and walk and look towards the light, he will suffer sharp pains; the glare will distress him, and he will be unable to see the realities of which in his former state he had seen the shadows; and then conceive some one saying to him, that what he saw before was an illusion, but that now, when he is approaching nearer to being and his eye is turned towards more real existence, he has a clearer vision, -what will be his reply? And you may further imagine that his instructor is pointing to the objects as they pass and requiring him to name them, -will he not be perplexed? Will he not fancy that the shadows which he formerly saw are truer than the objects which are now shown to him?"
Plato's Republic, book vii, 514a-c to 521a-e
[Plato's allegory about consciousness underpins Western philosophy. It also introduces a fundamental concept used by Christian theology to describe spiritual enlightenment.]