In Robot Ninja, a piece by Jonathan Monaghan we follow the eponymous character. As the robots moves towards the camera in a menacing fashion, its machine guns are shown to fire not typical bullets, but shuriken. Hospital beds, crown, lamps, and katanas do not appear to have any physical connection to the Robot Ninja, but instead constantly rotate around it, like some strange eclectic aura. As this amalgamation draws closer to the camera, you can see that the floating "wings" both have the Fed-Ex logo on them. As the video draws to an end, we are given a close up of the room in the robot's chest, which appears to be concert hall with a piano (concert halls being typically associated with wealth, power and status)
"In his latest work Robot Ninja (2013), the environments are becoming more abstract and the spirit more masculine, almost macho, although there are recurring symbols from the other video works; the crown, the sheep, Baroque / Gothic elements, the rainbow, symbols of famous brands, and hospital furnishings highlight Monaghan’s analysis and transposition of other levels of historical or cultural meanings." Guest Author (2013, Aug. 26) http://artefuse.com/2013/08/26/embezzling-the-unreal-jonathan-monaghan/
The concepts in this piece are those of violence and power(whether it be monetary power or physical power) and the interplay of the two. This amalgamation of parts is anything but peaceful looking, it is a war machine. Despite its Fed-Ex logo, it would seem highly unlikely that this robot was designed with making deliveries in mind. The presence of sheep in Monaghan's videos, creatures that are usually seen as peaceful and gentle creatures, instead being used as constructs for destruction, plays with the user's expectations based on preconceived notions that society has taught us.
"It is unclear whether the Robot Ninja brings doom or salvation, but there is a nightmarish edge in which we remain trapped in an endless loop of seductive but ultimately vacuous simulation where meanings don’t quite materialize."(2013, May 3) http://www.marketgallery.org/entries/robot-ninja-jonathan-monaghan/
Most of the above quote is an apt description of the piece, I do have to disagree with the declaration that it is "...ultimately vacuous simulation where meanings don't quite materialize." There is plenty of meaning to be found in this piece. The Robot Ninja is both a literal giant, and representation of a corporate or an authoritative giant. It is such a singular powerful creature, in a world that it has all to itself. It's power isolates and elevates it to a position only it occupies, a position where it could easily abuse it's power if it so chooses, mirroring how anyone in a position of power over others is capable of abusing that power.
Rainbow Narcosis (2012), is another piece by Jonathan Monaghan. It contains many themes common in all of his work; the sheep's head, the crown, baroque/gothic architecture, and the general surreal and slightly eerie feel of the piece, are all common elements in his work. The fact that music sometimes switches to something more upbeat only serves to make this piece creepier, like it's trying to lure the viewer into a false sense of security. Sure enough, by the end of the piece, the sheep's head morphs into an assassin and kills its creator, potentially leading to Robot Ninja occurring next.
Whispering Pines 10 (2010) is a 3-channel video piece by artist Shana Moulton. Like Monaghan's works, it has a surreal feel to it. Unlike Monaghan's though, the surrealness is more calming and soothing, where in his work, it creates a sense of unease and tension. Shana also incorporates "live action" into her piece; while Jonathan’s pieces are purely digital. While the "genre" these two artists work in is very similar, the "mood" of their pieces is extremely different.
Robot Ninja was exhibited at the Market Gallery in Glasgow.