Visiting Artist: Jesse McLean

A primary focus of Jesse McLean’s videos is the power – and the failure – of the mediated experience to bring people together. She is motivated by a deep curiosity regarding human behavior and the ways intimacies and connections are formed in an age of mediated experience. Using a variety of subjects and a collagist approach to moving image production, her projects contrast the finite capacities of nonhumans with infinite human desires.

McLean has presented her work at museums, galleries, and film festivals worldwide, including Projections at New York Film Festival, International Film Festival Rotterdam, Mumok Cinema in Vienna, CPH:DOX, Kassel Dokfest, and Impakt. She was the recipient of an International Critics Prize, (FIPRESCI Prize) at the Internationale Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen and a Jury Prize in the International Competition at the 2013 Videoex Festival. She was a featured artist at the 2014 Flaherty Seminar and a MacDowell Fellow in 2016. In 2016, she was selected for a Mary L. Nohl Individual Artist Fellowship.

McLean is based in Milwaukee, WI, where she directs the graduate program and is an Associate Professor of Film/Video/Animation/New Genres at Peck School of the Arts, UW-Milwaukee.


Just Like Us
15:00, Video, 2013
A familiar landscape of box stores and parking lots proves a rich site for longing. Celebrities observed in this environment and are reduced to ordinary beings in the process. A curious narrator reveals little moments of subjectivity that evidence the paradox of connection and belonging within systems that simultaneously contain us and comprise us.

I’m in Pittsburgh and It’s Raining
14:20, Video, 2015
An experimental portrait of a lighting stand-in/body double whose work and corporal self appears in films even if her name does not. Through a purposeful masking of the (sometimes subtle) differentiations between performance and acting, famous Hollywood actress and her double, audience expectation, and cinema magic this video offers a look behind the silver screen.

See a Dog, Hear a Dog
17:40, Video, 2016
With YouTube dog videos, chatbot dialogue windows, and iTunes visualizer among other sources, See a Dog, Hear a Dog—McLean’s latest analytic tragicomedy of infinite human desire and finite technological capacity—considers the deficits and surpluses produced by attempts at communication among humans, animals, and machines; both directly and as mediated by one another. (Colin Beckett)

Wherever You Go, There We Are
2017, 12′, Video
In this experimental travelogue, efforts to sound human and look natural instead become artificial. The road trip is narrated by an automated correspondent (all dialogue is taken from spam emails), his entreaties becoming increasingly foreboding and obtuse, in a relentless effort to capture our attentions.

Curious Fantasies
2019, 8′, Video
The language and imagery related to celebrity perfumes (both descriptive and visual) are a starting point to think about consumer desires and the corruptness of branding. Give us your songs, your smells and we will give you everything. The rich get richer, everyone smells poorer.

This event is co-sponsored by MICA Film & Video Program.

Additional Images