How to Have a Natural Experience is an ongoing body of work that evokes a life spent indoors, a contemporary existence in which our desires of the natural world are reconciled with photographic and video-based imagery conceived with electronic devices and activated by readily available household appliances. By using materials that are not authentically natural, my installations, sculptures, and videos address themes of artificiality, simulation, and ultimately, my own tendency to disconnect from the outside world.
In front of my TV, I can escape to the Serengeti, Himalayas, and into the darkest depths of the ocean without leaving the safety of my couch. Eating handfuls of chili pepper & lime flavored Takis, gulping mouthfuls of Strawberry Crush, I can go weeks without having digested a single real fruit or vegetable. Huddled under a mountain of blankets while the air vent above sends a direct stream of blowing heat down onto my cold, frigid body, I can forget what standing on the edge of a hill with a gust of wind at my back feels like. I don’t need to seek wildlife when I already have a slew of small, domesticated animals running rampant around the limited 500 square feet of space my partner and I inhabit. Out an open window in my kitchen, I can hear the neighbor’s dog barking, the birds chirping. I know the outside is there, and yet, I have everything I need here – inside.
Waiting (for the Sun to Set), further explores the experience of a mediated and isolated reality by representing a commercial waiting room. The audio within the “room” creates an ambiance that suggests the liminality of the space as a sunset projected on a mounted television screen is consistently interrupted then restarted by a moment of static. Presented within a corner of the gallery, roped off by a small barrier, the room acts like a diorama; a representation of a space rather than an experience to be shared. This, along with the addition of one non-descript mannequin, emphasizes the consumerist qualities of the piece while simultaneously amplifying its own seclusion.
About Elaine Catherine Miller
Elaine Catherine Miller (b. 1990, Franklin, TN) received her BFA in photography from Memphis College of Art in 2012 and MFA in photography from Columbia College Chicago in 2015. Although she is conventionally trained as a photographer, Elaine’s artistic pursuits are more varied with interest in sculpture, installation, video, and music compilation. She currently lives and works in Chicago, IL.