Rachel Maclean, Wot u :-) about? (Research)

Visiting Rachel Maclean’s art exhibition at Tate Britain, I really enjoyed her unusual style of art, as she parodies children’s television programmes, video games, technology and advertisement. Rachel’s distinct style makes it stand out well from the pieces in the gallery’s surrounding rooms.

Maclean uses video to create an imaginary fairytale world which looks at the boundary between childhood and adulthood. This video, ‘It’s What’s Inside That Counts’ (2016), uses bold colours reminiscent of those in children’s televisions and cartoons and shows a person’s happiness to be dictated by their appearance and appreciation by others, playing with our reliance of technology and ‘likes’ on social media. Happiness is seen to be something which can be sold, and modifying one’s appearance, e.g. removing he nose and modifying the skin, makes the character happier.


Darker parts of the video are sometimes shocking and violent, especially towards the end. Her yellow characters highlight exaggerated happiness marketing, and they play with the idea of childhood by being partially constructed from playground equipment, also being bloated mannequins, which are revealed to be being eaten alive by rodent-like dolls with sharp teeth. I like the idea of imagination which Maclean’s art involves, reinforcing the child-like nature of her work (something which the text-like language also alludes to).


Although I felt like some parts of the work were trying too hard to be weird, I really liked some aspects of it and feel as though the presentation of her video and six surrounding prints, ‘We Want Data!’ (2016), were effective in communicating her message, acting like advertisement and showing key parts of the video. I was really impressed by the video game part f her video, as the sound and changes of speed were really interesting.

I would like to experiment more with use of video and child-like colours in my own work, and perhaps look at creating something with more imagination, creating something new or making a series of child-like paintings/sculptures, etc. which would be unconventional of someone of my age. I also like the idea of having posters which pick out key aspects or themes of my work, acting as a simplified format and being useful for promotion of the video, etc.

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