This is a project I’ve been attempting for a while. It’s taken inspiration from two separate incidents: one wild night in the Brazen Head in Dublin spent messing around with Facebook filters, and an old video piece by Al Pritchard featuring the climactic scene from First Blood delivered ‘en Español’.
Previous works have explored both emoji culture and online social media sharing, as well as re-appropriation of pop culture imagery. This project is something of a Dadaist approach to these different articles.
This work started off with a Facebook Messenger filter over a live video of First Blood. I made use of the ‘Medusa’ filter, with a head of snakes and a yellow forked tongue when the mouth opened. My initial thoughts were to have the work as a video piece, but after a few attempts, it became apparent that it was working better as still images. These stills were easier to edit, and using the post-processing of Facebook Messenger I ended up with some jpg files with filters, stickers, emoji, text and backgrounds.
When I describe these works on my website, I talk about the relationship between the film's core themes (depression, PTSD, and post-conflict mental health) and the blasé nature of millennial internet users approach to these issues. To those not overly familiar with the franchise, John J. Rambo is the typical gun-totting 1980/90’s macho man musclebound hero. The first film actually portrays him fairly different to this popularise image from the sequels, in that there is only one (!) death, and that it uses his mental health issues to explain his actions. It does this through horrific flashbacks from his experiences in a Vietnamese concentration camp, culminating in his eventual mental breakdown at the end of the film where he discusses in graphic detail how he and his squad were ambushed and mostly killed. I wanted this to feed into the work and be reinterpreted through the prism of self-deprecating internet subcultures such as r/meirl and suicide memes.