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.

Sam Nichols (MFA AP15): "Shut The Door": On Baudelaire, Arlene Francis and the Ottomon Chair

Participant Review: Sam Nichols (MFA AP15)  

Sam Nichols (MFA AP 15) wrote the following post in response to the assignment of Charles Baudelaire’s “The Painter of Modern Life” in the Foundations of Criticism course. The topic of the session was modernity, particularly modernity as defined by Baudelaire in 1863. In his post Nichols wonders what Baudelaire would have made of Charles and Ray Eames Ottomon Chair as it was introduced to America on Arlene Francis television “Home” show of 1956. 


“Shut the Door. Have a Seat.”*

 *The title is a reference to Mad Men Season 3 Finale: “Shut the Door. Have a  Seat.” In this episode, we have a glimpse that things are changing. Dawn of postmodernism?


Having recently read Charles Baudelaire’s 1863 essay “The Painter of Modern Life” in the Foundations of Criticism course, I was left imagining how exciting it would have been for him to watch Arlene Francis’s “Home Show” of 1956, where she introduced Charles and Ray Eames’s Ottoman and Lounge Chair to the public.


Of course, he would have been 135 years old, but just the same, can you imagine him hearing Arlene Francis describe the Eames’s “desire to move freely within a world of enormous possibilities” and see how it “is combined with a very accurate sense of discrimination and taste –which of course we always see—this is an ability to select among the unlimited probabilities and return considerable richness to the world?” (As cited in NBC Debut of Eames Lounge Chair, 1956.)

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