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Western University
Visual Arts Studio
Visual Arts Studio 2210

1 Geoffery Pugen: Fusions Kaity Strong VA2274A:Art Now! I th November 7 , 2013 2 Geoffery Pugen: Fusions Originally a tennis player from Toronto, Geoffery Pugen experienced an unexpected change in his life’s direction while attending school in North Carolina when a professor recommended he take a theatre course. The influences from his time as a tennis player, such as being in touch with the motion of the body and bodily restraints and capabilities, were relatable to his newly developed interests in performance, photography and video artwork. Theatrical experience gave him an understanding of cinematic devices, and knowledge of artwork and aesthetics. His interest in the musical tours of the band, The Grateful Dead, provided him with inspirations from NorthAmerican pop culture. Essentially the synthesis of trains of thought from two very different worlds resulted in development of many unique themes. His preferred themes often demonstrate a similar collision of worlds and the relationships between contrasting elements (Pugen, 2013) . Pugen’s interests in the technical aspects of production such as lighting and music led him to manipulate digital images to create multi-media series and installations combining photography, video, performance and music, revealing these various relationships. th During Purgen’s talk in Western University’s Art Now Class on November 7 , he effectively presented these types of unique relationships through explanations of his series and installations entitled “Utopics”, “Retreat” and “Sahara Sahara”. Geoffery Pugen’s series, “Utopics”, demonstrates the immediate effects of the influences of his original love of athletics and his newly developed interests in performance and media art. The work was inspired by an interest in aerobics as the first fitness program for the air force as a 2 means to achieve peak physical fitness (Pugen, 2013) .An interesting opposition between reality 1 Geoffery Pugen, “Art in the Public Sphere,” Art Now 2274A, Western University (London, ON), November 7 2013. 2 Pugen, “Art in the Public Sphere.” 3 and constructed reality exists through the addition of the Jane Fonda figure into the series. Although aerobics is the common ground between the two sources, the exercise regime has very different implications within each sphere. The air force promoted aerobics as a tool to be the best pilot you can be, possibly an American hero, achieved through hard work and perseverance. On the other hand, Jane Fonda’s aerobics video represents a commercialized idea of attaining superficial beauty through physical fitness, which for many people was an unrealistic image to attain on their own but could be purchased in a store. One video within the “Utopics” series depicts this warped sense of achieving a ‘better self’using footage of Fonda’s body performing aerobics with the head of an elephant. The imagery appears comical and ridiculous and exposes the absurdity of the notion that self improvement begins with the purchase of an advertised product. The relationships between the works within this series reinforce the power of the messages. Pugen’s “Utopia” logo displays a unicorn, to represent a notion of achieving utopian perfection and wedge shapes exploding from the image, a device often used in fascist propaganda. The entire series comes across with the vibes of a cheesy and phony looking infomercial bombarding its audience with the all too familiar promises of that version of a better self for whom our society is eternally searching. “Retreat” is another series which reflects Geoffery Pugen’s interests in athletics and movement of the human body. “Retreat” was a program he created where people could step out
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