Carson Center’s Fleming has work selected for Cedars-Sinai permanent collection
calendar icon14 Oct 2019
Lincoln, Neb.—Jesse Fleming, assistant professor of emerging media arts in the Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts at Nebraska, had his video work, titled “Jane the Baptist,” acquired by the permanent collection of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
“There’s a feeling of security and honor for the work to have been placed in a collection like this,” Fleming said. “Whenever a work goes into a permanent collection, it means that it’s guaranteed for the duration of the collection. There are no forevers, but it’s as close as you can get. I feel a lot of encouragement and happiness for the piece, myself, and Miguel De Pedro, who collaborated on the work by creating the original score.”
The Cedars-Sinai Collection began more than 50 years ago and includes more than 4,000 paintings, sculptures, photos, drawings and limited-edition prints. The collection includes works by Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, David Hockney, Willem de Koonig, Frank Stella, Joan Miró, Max Ernst, Robert Irwin, Jennifer Steinkamp, and John Baldesarri among many others.Every piece in the medical center’s collection is showcased in the corridors, lobbies, offices, courtyards and walkways to promote and encourage healing and comfort. The center’s Advisory Council for the Arts, which includes fine-art enthusiasts and art professionals, selects the pieces to be included in the collection.
Fleming’s work is the first video artwork to be added to the collection.
“Often times you go into a hospital and in the waiting room, their programming on the monitors is unhelpful to healing and to our psyche,” Fleming said. “It’s often a lot of daytime TV, people at odds with each other—it’s a little rough. I was quite glad to have the board change that by programming video artwork that could be healing.”
“Jane the Baptist,” was created in 2017 and was originally shown at Five-Car Garage gallery in Los Angeles. It runs about 13 minutes and is described as “a sci-fi-techno-ecstatic voyage through the birth canals of modern automated car washes within Los Angeles County.”
“It’s a simple thing, but it’s a full sensory experience,” Fleming said. “It has a phonetic, auditory-visual component as well. And there’s a lot of emotion within it, too. It can be nostalgia. It can be sort of awe. And in the case of Los Angeles, it’s almost like worship because cars are quite important. There are many car washes throughout Southern California. There are quite a few that are almost cathedral or Disneyland-level car washes.”
Fleming said his work comes from the lens of mindfulness.
“Like how multi-sensory experiences are engaging the viewer or myself and how that can be shaped as a vehicle towards meaning,” he said. “In this case, removing the vehicle and creating just the surround of the car wash and structuring it in such a way that the edit was disorienting. The work is about 13 minutes long, but people would often stay for a half hour or 45 minutes before recognizing that it had looped a couple of times.”
Both the video and the accompanying musical score were designed to create an infinite hold on the viewer.
“One side is the ecstatic, transcendent container, and then the other side points to susceptibility of the human condition, where we are on a track linearly being pulled toward sensory fulfillment,” Fleming said. “And part of the interesting thing for me about the car wash was the mechanization of that. Cars are literally being washed by robots and sensed by sensors, which are defining the parameters so as we’re moving further and further towards a relationship with artificial intelligence and autonomous vehicles, the piece was touching upon these sides of a multi-dimensional story.”
Fleming is an internationally exhibited artist and filmmaker. He came to Nebraska this fall from San Francisco, where he was a lecturer of virtual reality at Stanford University. He also taught virtual reality, video, photography, design and mindfulness for creative process at UCLA from 2014-2017.
His work has shown at commercial galleries, public spaces, nonprofit galleries and cultural institutions, including the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art; Borusan Contemporary in Istanbul, Turkey; The National Film Museum of Frankfurt, Germany; The San Francisco Symphony; The Walt Disney Concert Hall; Creative Time in New York City, amongst others. He was listed by ArtForum as one of the top 10 Los Angeles artists of 2014 and is in the collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art; Borusan Contemporary; and Rutter Family Art Foundation in Norfolk, Virginia.
To see more about “Jane the Baptist,” visit Fleming’s website at https://go.unl.edu/4y97.