PPWC-4 Divine Pleasure, by Aaron MacLachlan

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This series is part of a larger installation called White: Disambiguation, interpretations on thirteen shades of white produced by the household paint company Behr. As a student of color photography, I have always been preoccupied by the nomenclature of mass-produced paint colors, and the fantastical specificity of imagery that allows companies to distinguish between thousands of combinations of hues. For some time, I had the idea of using household paint samples as source material for three-dimensional scenes. I wanted to create physical manifestations of the images that sat latently on monochromatic cards, where Soft Breeze™ confronted the viewer with the pulse of a miniature fan, and Ultra Pure White™ became the object of a Nazi salute.

In orchestrating this project, I chose to focus on variations of the color white because I was transfixed by the flagrant implications imposed on values that were almost impossible to distinguish one from another. In doing so, I became conscious of the pervasive political baggage of the nomenclature of whiteness as it relates to skin and surface. PPWC-4 Divine Pleasure refers to one of many variations of white produced by Behr. Here, I used it to paint on a reprinting of Rip Colt’s 1983 pornographic film Triple Treat, replacing every unit of exposed skin with a flat white plane and then rebinding the images to satisfy a new fiction.

Like the Edenic fig leaf used to resolve the nakedness of Adam and Eve, I set out to omit the profane surfaces of a scene in order to reduce it to a flattened facsimile of human pleasure. The tropical tones of sun-drenched suburbia, which serve as backdrops for these amorphous white forms, help to amplify the vision of censorship in paradise. Since pornography so often serves as a homogenized projection of human desire, Divine Pleasure™ can also be seen as an elevated avenue to place oneself in a scene, symbolizing a return to the abstract catharsis of erotic literature. Ultimately, though, I am most interested in the psychology of household paint itself; I like to think of these images as representations of a wall so pristine, indeed so divine, that it seems to invite desecration from anyone who looks upon it.

Aaron MacLachlan

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