"And don't think it hasn't been a little slice of heaven...'cause it hasn't." - Bugs Bunny
MONSTER is a temporary, site-specific video installation exhibited on the first night of the sun in Scorpio, a week before Halloween, on October 24, 2009 inside a Los Angeles residence snugly situated within the central neighborhood of Historic Filipinotown (Hi-Fi) during the after-party of You Gave Me Brave, an Artist Curated Project group show at S1F Gallery envisioned by Young Chung.
MONSTER is made up of two parts: a looping video with sound projected along the walls of a long, dark hallway leading to a green-tiled bathroom. Inside the bathroom another video with sound loops: this time on a tiny TV monitor set amongst perfumey powder room objects. Both found footage video are derived from a 1946 Warner Bros. Merry Melodies cartoon, "Hair-Raising Hare," directed by Chuck Jones and written by Tedd Pierce, with stunning background art created by Robert Gribbroek. In the story a Rita Hayworth-like wind-up toy rabbit lures Bugs Bunny into the castle of a Peter Lorre-like evil scientist who desires to feed Bugs to a hairy, red-orange, sneaker-wearing, tooth-(or heart-?)shaped monster named Gossamer.
Broadcast for decades long after they were first released, Warner Bros. Merrie Melodies cartoons were presented on television alongside contemporary animated programming for children into the 1990s, before they were packaged as classics in the 2000s. This video installation explores how American animation from the 1930s-1940s play a large role in children's absorption of the narratives, characters, and erotic fantasies of classic Hollywood cinema and how animated representations of architecture and space in these cartoons contribute to the construction of an imaginary Los Angeles.
MONSTER has multiple inspirations. First, it is a response to the space itself. The building, a Spanish-style adobe apartment complex built between the 1930s and 40s, carries that Old Hollywood spirit unique to this period and style of architecture, structures that conjure for me ghostly screen memories of those sad characters and the homes they lived in, or couldn't afford to live in, which together become my imagined history of LA and part of its haunted mythology: Joe Gilles' Hollywood apartment at the Alto Nido in Billy Wilder's Sunset Boulevard (1950); even Joe's leaky temporary room above Norma Desmond's garage; Dixon Steele's flat situated at a lower level to his female lover's abode in Nicholas Ray's film In a Lonely Place (1950).
The one-bedroom apartment is also the home of a friend known as Free Spirit, a long-time LA resident, fierce activist, and devoted collector of "Gen-X Punk & Queer Punk" art. Free Spirit shares the home with Boo Boo and Woo Woo, two black cats who terrorize guests by hiding under a small telephone desk unit original to the apartment design, built into the wall at the mid-point of the 25-foot long hallway. When visitors need to use the bathroom, they must brave the strange, narrow tunnel with high-curved ceilings, where hissing shadowy forms leap out of the darkness to slash timid ankles. The long hallway, the little monsters in the dark, the fear of having to use the bathroom at all, together with the screen ghosts haunting the architecture led to the making of MONSTER.
2009 / VIDEO INSTALLATION / SOUND
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