In his new series, Mortals, Mat Thorne recreates character archetypes and landscapes using images culled form popular cinema. The resulting images are easily recognizable as standard fare for Hollywood, but through Thorne’s process they become grotesque and alien. These chimeric images reflect aspects of the artist’s own attitude or response to the subject, a reaction that has been established entirely through his exposure to films and other cultural artifacts, not real-world associations. The initial photographs are drawn from a wide range of films covering many years of American cinema. These appropriated images are transformed from the portrayed subjects into anonymous figures and landscapes that are the embodiment of false ideals and artificiality. These gestalt constructs are prototypical examples of characters, places, and emotions, ultimately having very little in common with either their individual components or their real-world counterparts.
Problems & Solutions
The Problems and Solutions series of color photographs began with my gathering small porcelain figurines from antique stores and thrift shops along the Maine coast which were then destroyed by random hits with a hammer. I then attempted to reassemble the broken animals, and eventually placed them into baths consisting of various over-the-counter drugs. The resulting images are, at first glance, whimsical and light-hearted. Further investigation will illicit a more complicated reaction as the figures begin to appear pitiful and hurt. They are simply victims of a random act of violence. The animals have been innocent figures throughout this process. Their destruction and consequent treatment is meant to invoke feelings of regret and shame as all attempts to right this initial wrong have amounted to nothing. They will never be whole again, and while the medicine they sit in casts a beautiful color it offers no remedy for their situation. The only result that emerges from the process is a colorful bowl of liquid and an emotionally neutral face. These photographs describe both violent and hopeless situations. They also offer commentary on the effectiveness of our society’s fast and convenient forms of curing ailments, and draw focus to the contents of many over-the-counter drugs, which look and taste more like candy than medication.