"Visceral critic", by Stéphanie Vidal
Jonathan Monaghan’s videos are worlds seeking closure or maintaining a loop. They develop a critique of consumer society by showing what is wrong with it. To construct his composite and dystopic worlds, Jonathan Monaghan uses 3D simulations found on the Internet and designs new ones that weave his narration. Found elements repeat themselves from one video to another, in order to reveal the auto-referential characteristic of the world in which they were born and to amplify its obsessions.
“Mothership”, leads us lexically to a Sci-Fi universe, dominated by an authoritarian, security-obsessed and colonizing power. Its flotilla is composed of floating architectures looking like hallucinated zeppelins circled by precious ornaments. They are structured in delirious strata that seem rigorously articulated, following a mysterious order.
Recurrent beheaded rotundas thrust with ceremonial flags serve as launching bases for terrible chimeras or as anchoring points for grazing animals; such as the cash cow much appreciated by marketing research and supporting on her back the City of London, the famous business district. Propelled by structures bearing logos of big multinational companies, the capitalist model reveals itself as the dynamic base of this perverted universe. The organic shapes of these structures evoke all at once intestinal, genital or even viral connotations, thus picturing a primary, infected and venomous society, a cannibal world constantly devouring itself.
In this dystopia, the image of man blurs into the works just like in Gerard Richter’s whose works prices reach record levels. Health equipment is exposed like ostentatious goods, luxury objects seem to be the only thing capable of giving birth, weapons serenely parade or dance, carefree, like Iron Man with his autonomous armor, a mix of wealth and technology, who executes dance steps on a levitating podium.
Inspired by globalized American culture, the artist refers to video games – first cultural product in the world – and to super heroes, who carry values now exploited on every medium by creative industries for their commercial potential. The feeling of freedom conveyed by movement in virtual environments is corrupted by the grid, transformed in a trap. Even though it displays the brighter rainbow colors, the strange ribbon floating above the City suggests alienation by evoking the track of Tron, a universe in which the creator becomes prisoner of his own creature. Like in a platform game, space is constructed vertically with an insistence on different levels. The menu reveals a spatial hierarchy, unwillingly unwinding, and one thinks of elevators gliding up dozens of floors in corporate headquarters.
In another video called “Escape Pod”, the image of the elevator is becoming more precise and takes us towards the highest point; where power culminates through architecture. The door opens on a Duty Free shop, a total and absolute symbol of a limitless consumerist regime.
In Jonathan Monaghan’s worlds, there seems to be no escape and desperate attempts to flee are always confronted to the order of a system characterized by embellished brutality. Signs for emergency exits are omnipresent and bear the appearance of shallow politeness, that is not fooling anybody.