Photographer: Nigel Bennett
These photos were published as a book, “Tunnel Vision”, together with the illustration of Nathan Burton.
I was very happy to work on this project because I admire Nigel’s work.
(from Art Rotterdam press release)
Foreign or resident, much of our knowledge of the United States comes filtered through Hollywood. Indeed, its influence is so powerful, and our experience so permanently coloured by its flickering frames, that we are unable to view the country with any real accuracy. As a first-time tourist in the US, it comes almost as a disappointment not to be pursued by SWAT teams with perfect dentistry abseiling from helicopters.
But Hollywood trades in distortion and illusion. Rather than authentically represent any day-to-day experience, it is more a stage upon which the nation’s fantasies and aspirations are played out, validating and justifying the North American way of life. For US citizens the cultural ideals depicted are rarely achieved, the material wealth rarely attained, but this doesn’t stop Hollywood’s output serving as cultural ‘shock and awe’ in a global offensive for hearts and minds.
In Bennet’s words “Hollywood has superseded America. It is now more authentic, more widely recognised as ‘the real thing’ than the country itself.” Emerging from Plato’s cavern into the sunlight, would we be able to accept our surroundings as genuine?
Tunnel Vision is a parallel Bennet-world, in which the artist plays shadow-puppet, casting shapes with his ego. The absurdity of this personal-Hollywood – a one-man program for global domination – only serves to highlight the often arrogant and destructive nature of the red-carpeted original.