LEARN TO SMILE,
LEARN TO LAUGH,
LEARN TO BE HAPPY
 
Artist Statement


      A common occurrence in my work is to desconstruct the very illusions that I set up for the purpose of presenting multiple perspectives or unveiling truth. One of the techniques that I use to create this situation is the projection of video on sculpture. This practice itself is not new, however, unlike artists like Tony Oursler who project video on three-dimensional forms, in my case the video and sculpture are the same imagery, in a sense combining Oursler's technique with the plaster body-cast technique of sculptor George Segal.

still image of the performance Learn to Smile, Learn to Laugh, Learn to Be Happy by Owen Eric Wood
      The projection of video on sculpture is hardly flawless as the two do not perfectly line up. However, I would not want them to. As the subject matter of my work tends to deal with the disconnection between people, or the discrepancy between what I am and what I perceive myself to be, the disciplinary incompatibility coincides with these contradictions.

      I use the imperfection of video projection on sculpture is in Learn to Smile, Learn to Laugh, Learn to Be Happy (2005). After videotaping myself laughing, I project this video across a room, positioned in relation to a plaster bust of myself and an empty chair so that the video aligns with both the sculpture and my actual face when I enter and sit down during the performance.

      On its own, the video is obviously a construction, however, it is the behavioural norm of viewers to forgive and forget, so to speak, and engage with a video's content. However, imposing the video onto the sculpture and also onto my real face compounds the artificial construction of the video through mimicry, repetition and exaggeration, emphasizing that none of the representations are the truth, not the video, the sculpture or even my real self, which is also unreal because of the fact that I am engaged in a performance.

      By deconstructing the illusion of these representations through the merging of disciplines, I point out the fallacy within the content of the piece, which is that you cannot force yourself to laugh, smile and be happy. In this coexistence of truth and illusion, the focus shifts from finding the truth, to the struggle one has in the process of seeking it. Learn to Smile, Learn to Laugh, Learn to Be Happy is not about telling viewers how to be happy; it is about how people try to manipulate their emotions.