At Play in The Fields of The Lord
At Play in the Fields of the Lord by Lorna Mills, is a piece of net.art that was originally shown at Transfer in 2015. She utilized an impressive amount of monitors for the project, all of which displayed GIFs running on loops of no more than a couple of seconds. The images are mined from every corner of the internet, and include everything from pornographic images to herds of puppies. It is an obsessive collection of bizarrely arranged clips, and the resulting exhibition is grotesquely intriguing. Writhing heaps of internet detritus line the walls, and the eerie glow of monitors lights the room. Pixelated, repetitive movement in tandem with a jarring assortment of colors assault the viewer as they walk through the exhibit, conveying the raw pulse of the internet that Mills intended to convey with this particular piece.
The clips elicit equal parts revulsion and captivation. The exhibition is visually overpowering, which is a main element of what makes it so intriguing. In order to process the experience, the viewer must stand, captive to it, and examine each screen individually. Even within a single monitor, the cacophony of movement is difficult to visually decode. One must watch multiple loops if they want to dissect each screen into its individual parts. This plays into Mills overall theme, that we are all voyeurs as a result of the internet. She brings to light the superficiality of our aseptic society by exposing the heaps of digital trash that are available to anyone with a computer, and yet, can be distilled into a single moment of impact.
“A dancing bear equals a crusty hippy equals a wagging tail equals a face plant equals kittens, acres of kittens equals a belching frog equals a jiggling fat man equals a car crash equals a street fight. In one of the GIFs, a dolphin puppet stares at the wrestlers writhing beneath it. The dolphins eyes are popping out, its mouth is wide open, in a grin or a gasp. The dolphin is the viewer and the dolphin is Mills. Mills’s art is always, at heart, an act of sharing.” (Vaughan, RM. 2014. Flickering Formalism: The Art of Lorna Mills)
This is very characteristic of Mills body of work, and stands in fairly direct contrast with one of her most recent pieces, Mountain Light/Time. This piece, which was shown over Time Square at 11:57pm every night in the month of March, shows the converse of what she typically attempts to display; the Internet’s ability to create something beautiful. The GIF only lasts about 8 seconds, but depicts a mountain sunrise that lasts about the duration of a deep, calming breath. While it still uses the pixelated, brightly colored imagery characteristic of Mills work, it lacks the grotesque and pulsating quality that is present in most of her other pieces. It is also not as openly critical of society as her other pieces of work are, and is meant to create an effect on the viewer more than make a statement.
One artist who this piece is particularly comparable to is the work of Terrell Davis. Issue No.5 of Felt Zine has a similar visual aesthetic to At Play in the Fields of the Lord and deals similar subject matter as well. Both pieces use bright, electric colors and portray collections of modern objects, acting as a criticism of society. Davis displays what could be a bedside table, covered in commercial products, electronics, and tabloid newspapers all from slightly different periods of time. In one of the pieces, there is a “Beatz Pill” next to a PlayStation 1 game and an old blocky cell phone. It is this sort of visual mashing that makes it comparable to At Play in The Fields of The Lord.
Lorna Mills’ Image Dump-http://www.digitalmediatree.com/sallymckay/LornaMillsImageDump/
Current Exhibitions at Transfer Gallery- http://transfergallery.com/lorna-mills/
Article on Lorna Mills from Canadian Art- http://canadianart.ca/features/lorna-mills-and-her-subversive-gif-art/