Rachel Maclean (b. 1987) constructs oneiric narratives set in computer-generated landscapes. Combining elements of surrealism and fantasy, Maclean’s extraordinary films demonstrate a unique inventiveness, ambition, and technical skill. Although her current practice is focused on video-art, she graduated from the Edinburgh College of Art in 2009 with a BA in Drawing and Painting. Living and working in Glasgow, Maclean was featured in such prestigious venues as the National Gallery of Scotland and will represent Scotland in the 57th International Art Exhibition at the Venice Biennale in 2017.
Maclean began working with video whilst studying at Edinburgh College of Art. Finding a durational means of expression more in tune with her interests, Maclean transitioned from the static medium of painting to film. This allowed the artist to more easily combine her penchant for role-play, costume, and digital production. The resulting cinematic collages maintain a painterly composition, but are structured by fluid, cut-and-paste techniques. Slipping in and out of history and into imagined futures, Maclean’s videos offer a sharp critique of contemporary culture that is, often, both nauseatingly positive and cheerfully grotesque.
Dealing with issues of identity, social life, and politics, Maclean’s visions play out caricatured melodramas within which she plays every role. Donning sumptuous, self-designed costumes and gaudy make-up, the artist continually transforms herself into a hyper-real, rainbow fresco living in a nightmarish, candy-coloured world of zeitgeisty themes. Employing computer technology to generate her locations and appropriating voices from popular television, the Internet, and cartoons, Maclean deftly constructs super-saturated, cinematic alter-worlds populated by cautiously psychotic characters. With their abrupt shifts in tone and setting, wherein protagonists swap roles and voices at will, Maclean’s works appear to be unnerving and dream-like.