Participant Review: Sam Nichols (MFA AP15) 

Sam Nichols (MFA AP15)
“I Saw the Light”

Participants enrolled in “Autobiography of Place I” were asked to create a work that explored their own autobiography of place. Sam Nichols responded with this video of a paper model of his childhood home being transformed by fire, layered with a recording of himself singing Hank Williams’ “I Saw the Light." 


Sam Nichols: I Saw The Light, 2013

It is interesting to me how temporal conundrums can capture a viewers attention, yet simultaneously repel it to the point where they experience a paralysis of conventional consciousness. Through witnessing such occurrences as an automobile accident, a house fire, a caterpillar being consumed by a horde of ants, …or even the sight of a small child playing with their imaginary companion, a viewer may become suspended within the initial phase of perception, within the aura of conflict. 

As an artist, I am interested in the artistic potential that resides within those moments where one is suspended by an encounter, because it is my belief that within these experiences, one is afforded the opportunity to consider an infinite number of possibilities. The more one is held the greater the opportunity, yet, inevitably the lasso of knowledge will pull the experience towards domestication, towards knowing, and these imaginative opportunities quickly diminish.

In my video titled I Saw the Light, it is my intention to create a piece that would suspend the viewer in a similar paradoxical conundrum. My hope is that the piece will hold the viewers’ attention in a way that promotes their ability to construct imaginary possibilities through what they perceive in this piece. In this way, viewers will both witness and participate in the invention of meaning, all the while becoming more aware of themselves through the experience. By requiring (or allowing) the viewer to use their own symbolic legend when navigating the piece, the work is liberated from the need to be conclusive; therefore, sustaining the internal conversation beyond the initial perceptive event.