Nicole Miller is a Los Angeles-based artist known for her exploration of the perception and reality surrounding life as an African-American. Her multimedia works are the result of being impacted by cinema and moving images, today presenting the viewer with a unique experience. For Summit LA19, Miller is presenting her first laser light work entitled For Now to remind visitors that pain is a passing feeling. Whitewaller spoke with the artist to hear more about this work, and how her relationship with Los Angeles has evolved.
WHITEWALLER: Your work deals with using film and installation to reconstruct interpretations of self and culture. Can you tell us a bit about when this began and how the idea has evolved?
NICOLE MILLER: I’ve been obsessed with cinema for most of my life. I became excited about video installation as a means of taking a hard look at the conventions of looking at moving images. Video installation is an opportunity to invite an active viewer to encounter my work. I try to fight against passive projection.
WW: As an artist in today’s environment climate (political, environmental, social, etc.), what do you feel your responsibility is?
NM: I feel a responsibility to be honest with myself about what I’m looking at and why. I am in pursuit of consciousness and try to point to examples of this in my work.
WW: How has living in L.A. impacted your creativity?
NM: I moved to LA in 2002; it was a very different city then. It was the perfect place to be a young artist, very affordable and full of young artists ready to engage in conversation. It is a complicated city with a visual and historic place in our American identity. It is at once segregated and diverse, both economically and racially. Uncovering the layers of its structure and people that populate that structure has very much become the content of my work.
WW: Tell us a bit about your project with Summit LA19.
NM: For Now is the first laser light work I’ve made. (I’ve since finished and installed a large commission with SFMOMA in laser.) The laser animation is generated with analogue audio run through an analogue synthesizer. Because of this, it is the closet experience one can have to synesthesia without having it; it’s light color and movement generated with sound. It is one powerful beam; so strong that if it doesn’t move it burns through anything in its way, animated in a way that it tricks the mind and eye into thinking it is a whole animation. The work is a mantra, the phrase “for now” repeated over and over. It stands as a phrase that can be interpreted in many ways, as a therapeutic reminder of the passing of pain, an ironic nod at temporal trickery, as the laser it itself.
WW: Can you tell us about your relationship with LA?
NM: Oh, it is fraught. It is a place I long for when I am gone and can’t wait to leave whilst there.