The American Desert (For Chuck Jones)
(Maastricht / Plein 1992 (Av. Céramique 50)
The American Desert (For Chuck Jones) by Mungo Thomson (1969 / United States) is a long movie, or, more accurately put, it is a kind of slideshow consisting of images and short movie fragments taken from the Roadrunner cartoons. The fragments used are taken from between 1949 and 1963. However, the roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote have been removed from the image, leaving silent pictures and slowed-down movie images in which the focus is fully on the desolate American landscape.
But what do we see? They seem to be images of that one American landscape – burned into our memories as an authentic setting – that Wile E. Coyote constantly runs around in. But the landscape is a myth. In reality they are collected images of landscapes in California, Arizona and Utah.
Thomson’s creation is a new natural landscape composed of facts, fiction and varying associations. The playful cartoon characters and storylines are no longer part of the storyboard. Due to the removal of sound, the line drawings, colour usage and composition of the landscape, the images become similar to those of the American visual arts movements of Pop Art and Abstract Expressionism. Thomson’s colourful work is in strong contrast with the smooth glass facade of Centre Céramque.