• The ponderous counterspectacle of things ceasing to be, or, How I learned to stop worrying about my future, accept the fact that I’m going to die, and make a bunch of pictures about it: MFA Thesis - Photography and Related Media

      Rouke, Nicholas (2020-05)
      Americans like to believe that we are better than everyone else. It is deeply ingrained into the culture we consume, even before we start school as children. TV and films portray a heroic American superhero defeating the exotic bad guy, or the dopey young man gets the girl and job of his dreams, just because he worked hard and had integrity. The cultural message is that someone born here can grow up to be whatever he wants, and live the American Dream. I was lucky enough to be born into the generation that ruined everything. In spite of growing up in a position of privilege, I have never felt like the goals set by previous generations would ever be attainable for me. As the economy and global standing of the United States declines, millennials have been accused of not working hard enough or spending too much time eating avocado toast to be able to achieve the traditional milestones of success. The series Ponderous Counterspectacle of Things Ceasing to Be was born of my own anxiety about the future. I created a character and a scenario that reflect the absurdity of navigating the systems of the modern world which have led an entire generation to “failure.” After surviving the undefined “Collapse” by hiding in a refrigerator, the last millennial on earth searches for a refuge in a brand new world. Alone and lacking the necessary skills to provide for himself, he resorts to trying things he learned from Saturday morning cartoons and reality TV. Lost and in awe of the world that he does not recognize, the man is trapped in a cycle he doesn’t have the tools to break, and chasing a dream that doesn’t exist. The photographs are sequenced as an endlessly repeating slideshow, not allowing viewers any control over image order or pace at which the photographs are displayed. The point of view alternates between that of the character and the audience, blurring the line between observation and participation.