Artist: Juliet Johnson
Exhibition: i thought i saw a windmill
Media: Video Installation, Stone
Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Max L. Gatov Gallery East
About the Artist
Juliet Johnson is an undergraduate student working toward her BFA degree in the School of Art’s Sculpture Program. In her work, Johnson explores with the ideas of memory, distraction and location. Johnson was very open to hear the ideas of others’ regarding her work.
Upon entering the gallery, ones’ auditory and visual senses are stimulated. Juliet’s artwork is composed of video installation, stone and audio. The video installation projected two partially overlapped and textured photographs. On the adjacent wall, there is a picture framed by an incomplete frame and a poem in bright, red letters. Then a rock can be found across the two textured photograph. Simultaneously, there is a soft melody over the voices of people talking being played in the background.
To elaborate, one of the two textured photographs featured a bush’s light green leaves. Green was the color that stood out on this picture. The other picture seemed to be the reflection of a fire in a chimney. This picture was a bit hazy in comparison to the neighboring picture and the color orange stood out in this picture. As previously stated, the two pictures overlapped slightly. Moving on to the adjacent wall, a picture of joyous man jumping is framed by an incomplete frame. Along with the incomplete frame, a jagged squared shape piece is missing from the bottom left side of the picture. A poem in bright red letters is placed to the left of the incomplete picture and frame. Finally, right across the two textured photographs lays an oval shaped rock with the phrase “not here” written in a black bold print.
Juliet Johnson mentioned that she was exploring the ideas of memory, distraction and location. This being said, I find that each elements in her work touches on at least one of these qualities. To start off, the two textured photographs could be thought of as a snippet of someone’s memory. The same thing could be said about the poem and incomplete picture. However, the incomplete picture also touched on the theme of distraction. It could be that one is so distracted that one does not quite recall exactly how the frame and picture looked like, thus they are both incomplete and missing fragments. The soft melody accompanied with the talking voices could be the memories that we have as well as the distractions that caused one to forget how exactly it is that a memory looked like. Then, the rock explores the theme of location. Why is it that the rock is placed so far away from the rest of the items? It could be that due to the distractions causing out memories to fade, one has randomly placed the rock in a completely different location than the rest of our memories. Overall, Johnson wanted one to feel a soft longing through the exploration of memories and related themes.
Synthesis / My Experience
Upon entering the gallery, I was hit by a wave of nostalgia. The first piece that caught my eye was the picture of the man joyously jumping. I had an instant flashback to my childhood. I suddenly remembered the long summer days spent frolicking in the pool with my cousins. I was so focused on my memory that I did not initially notice the incomplete frame and picture. It wasn’t until I looked at the two textured pictures and then back to the incomplete photograph that I realized that the photograph and frame were incomplete. I must have filled in that memory with my own without even realizing it.
The soft music with the talking also helped me feel very relaxed and serene. Suddenly, I wasn’t a college student stressing over grades and life. Suddenly, the green textured photograph reminded me of my mom’s green garden and the fireplace photograph reminded me of the warm feeling of having my family together during the Christmas season. However, the memories coming to mind weren’t from one event or day. They were coming from a variety of fragmented memories just like the two textured photographs overlap.
Walking into that gallery is similar to walking into the part of your brain that hold all of our memories. Most of my memories are not linear or complete. The distant rock and incomplete picture are much like my memories. It is probable that some of my memories did not occur in the sequence that I remember them now. For me, this artwork was all about memories. Different sounds, sights and smells trigger my memory and sometimes make me long for the past. It is because I often romanticize the past. I cut out the fragments that brought joy into my life and try to forget the rest. The title of the piece is “i thought i saw a windmill”, which describes my fragmented memories. Maybe we have all thought to have seen a windmill that we really did not.