Jillian Mayer’s Data Warping Art Series: IMPRESSIONS

Short films and billboards that toy with the metrics of identity and their usage

Once again artist Jillian Mayer has managed to subvert and twist the fabric of culture in a way that’s both comedic and clever. Rolling off the success of her sculptural series “Slumpies” on display at the Perez Art Museum Miami through January, Mayer then debuted two short films at this year’s Borscht Film Festival. As an aside, it’s been a good few years for Borscht Corp, the Miami-based art and film collective that helm the festival and commissioned these pieces from Mayer. This was their 10th festival and it’s widely known that this year’s Best Picture winner at the Oscars, “Moonlight,” was set in motion thanks to an introduction by Borscht’s founder. The quality of work seen at and made by Borscht continues to stretch across cultural consumers and Mayer’s work is a testament to its quality.

Both short films fall within her “IMPRESSIONS” series, which the artist refers to as a “targeted campaign… examining new ways of looking.” It began as two billboards, one each in LA and NYC, during the fall of 2016—with the idea of marketing and art blurring in a rather uncommon way—and taking up tangible, physical space. The 46-second films—”ARROWS” (2016) and “MEASUREMENTS” (2016)—step from the tactile to the digital.

Further, both act as a call to action for the audience, and feature Mayer as the subject matter. Mayer, as a character, explains the value in charting one’s own biometrics beyond weight and height. Both emphasize the importance of facial geography, and in one instance expressions. While the work alludes to Minority Report-like science fiction marketing capabilities, it’s actually based on Mayer’s research of current technology—including a smile measuring software. So, the films are an advertisement for a potential future of Mayer’s imagining. But, in their own way, they also function as an advertisement for Mayer herself—and her body of work. In a world of advertising agency artist collaborations and brand desire for viral videos, another layer to Mayer’s work shines through.

Much of Mayer’s artwork addresses the impact of technology on identity and humanity as a whole, something she attributes to her interest in the human experience. “The root of many of our contemporary tech advancements is to enhance communication efforts. Whenever a better way to communicate or share is provided, we embrace it,” she explains to CH. “Much of my work is inspired by technology and its effects on identity and our environments but that’s because I am constantly navigating my own thoughts regarding these matters. As a performance artist, I tend to use myself as a tool to explore these concepts.” When asked if there will be more work in the “IMPRESSIONS” series down the line, Mayer says it’s possible. Her work can often be seen at David Castillo Gallery, where she is represented. Beyond Miami, Mayer will be exhibiting as part of MoMA PS1’s Past Skin group show, running 9 April through 10 September.

Videos and images courtesy of David Castillo Gallery