I Let My Nightmares Go

I Let My Nightmares Go
15-minute live performance with single-channel video projection

description from Shotgun Review:

“The performance was, to quote Ciocci, “exercise and exorcism.” I Let My Nightmares Go encapsulated this with a crucial performative element involving Jacob dancing in front of a projection of Jacob dancing in front of a compilation of YouTube clips. Beforehand, Jacob introduced this background montage of pop religiosity (the band Paramore), recession prophets (Young Jeezy and Kanye West’s Put On), media anxiety (preteen film reviewer Sexman), and racial catharsis (Eddie Murphy and Michael Jackson performing “What’s Up With You?”). It sampled from cultural references with genuine appreciation for the human context that inspired them, remixing images and sound until they became agents for the characters involved, including Ciocci himself. Watching someone strip the limitations off kitsch by empathy alone was liberating. It hurt to watch him up there dancing awkwardly, but he seemed to say, the exposé is the exorcism.”

Excerpt of Review by Brian Droitcour from ArtForum:

“WHERE DID ALL THESE PEOPLE COME FROM?” There’s only one man on the screen with the middle-aged blonde asking the question, but as her histrionic gaze pierces the fourth wall, her wonderment seems legitimate: Where did we all come from? The snippet is from a video produced for a limited audience—for a local cable-access channel, perhaps, or a church group—but it has found a different, unintended viewership via the Final Cut Pro window of Jacob Ciocci, who took the clip from its context and inserted it into I Let My Nightmares Go, 2008. His seven-minute montage is persistently aware of the instability of audience in today’s expanded media culture; the work is bookended by entries from the vitriolic vlog of a bucktoothed, pimply teen known to his YouTube fans as Sexman and peppered with home videos of kids singing or playacting in masks. Ciocci exploits the Internet’s paradox—tight-knit communities use its tools to share multimedia messages among themselves, but in doing so they make them available to everybody—by mining documentation of how ordinary people enact ordinary dreams and anxieties.

Collage films lengthen the distance between an image’s origin and the viewer’s experience of it, which often creates a sense of fracture, but Ciocci manages to merge fragments into a whole. His sound tracks help. In I Let My Nightmares Go, Ciocci mashes up music by hip-hop artist Young Jeezy and the Christian alt-rock band Paramore—specimens of the professional dream factories that supply homebrew acts with attitudes and affectations. Another unifying factor is the artist’s own on-screen presence. Ciocci splices himself into the frame, sometimes several selves at once, headbanging and lip-synching in a tie-dyed T-shirt that he removes halfway through to reveal another shirt with Google’s rainbow logo. (When present at screenings, the artist repeats these motions live.) He also delivers an extended monologue, in which he counts off rubbery “awareness bracelets” that arbitrarily assign color and form to abstractions (“White awareness: peace. Brown awareness: color cancer.”), like Lucky Charms. Juxtaposed with found footage, the bracelets suggest that the videos are embodiments of emotion—that taking a diatribe or a dance and preserving it in a media artifact is a contemporary form of ritual magic.”