No Emoji for Ennui:
Lana Z Caplan
Ross Meckfessel
Alison Nguyen
Matt Whitman

January 27 – March 26, 2022
Thursday – Saturday, dusk – 11pm
Everson Museum Plaza
401 Harrison Street

Related Events

In-person Screening + Q&A
Thursday | February 24 | 6:30 p.m.

Online Screening + Q&A
Thursday, March 10 | 6:30 p.m. EST

BE SAFE: MASK UP AND SOCIAL DISTANCE — Exhibition patrons visiting the Everson Plaza must maintain a social distance at all times, except for groups visiting from the same household. We strongly encourage everyone to wear face masks to safeguard public health.
Light Work’s Urban Video Project presents No Emoji for Ennui, a group exhibition featuring the work of filmmakers Lana Z Caplan, Ross Meckfessel, Alison Nguyen, and Matt Whitman. The installation will be on view from January 27 thru March 26, 2022, at UVP’s outdoor projection site on the north facade of the Everson Museum of Art at 401 Harrison Street, Thursday through Saturday, from dusk until 11 p.m.

Plaza Projection Schedule:

Jan. 27-Feb 5: Lana Z Caplan, Autopoiesis
Feb. 10-19: Ross Meckfessel, Estuary
Feb 24-March 5: Alison Nguyen, My Favorite Software Is Being Here
March 24-26: combined loop

In conjunction with the exhibition, UVP will host two screenings of the No Emoji for Ennui program featuring additional work by Tulapop Saenjaroen, followed by a Q&A with the filmmakers:

  • In-person on Thursday, February 24, at 6:30 p.m. on the SU campus in Shaffer Art Bldg. Shemin Auditorium
  • Streaming online on Thursday, March 10 at 6:30 p.m. EST

About the Program

No Emoji for Ennui is a group show featuring the work of Lana Z Caplan, Ross Meckfessel, Alison Nguyen, and Matt Whitman that explores the difficult-to-define emotional tenor of our time—one that often leaves us overstimulated and underwhelmed at the same time it demands endless positivity. The seductive surface of the touchscreen shatters and the polygon meshes underlying our shared social reality peek out from under the digital skin.

What does it feel like to be a person in a world in which our sense of self has been thoroughly disoriented by technological entanglement and co-opted by neoliberal capital?

By turns unsettling, contemplative, humorous, and filled with existential dread, the resulting show is a collective selfie of who and what we are now.

About the Works

Lana Z Caplan, Autopoiesis
2019 | 7:15  

#aerialskiers #PyeongChangWinterOlympics #divers #LeniRiefenstal #Olympia #OpticalIllusions #SpeculativelyGeneratedOuterSpace #SelfHypnosis #SunRa #SpaceIsThePlace #4ECognition #AssaultByHashtags #MeToo #BlackLivesMatter #StillMarching #GiletJaune #Brexit #IdeasofUtopia #AfroFuturism #HashtagActivism #YouAreASystem #ConstantlyBuffeted #Maintain #LoveWins

Lana Z Caplan works across various media, including single-channel films and videos in essay form, interactive installations, video art, and photography. Her work is inspired by notions of utopia and the relationship of the present to history and memory. Caplan has exhibited and screened at Anthology Film Archives (New York), Antimatter Film Festival (Victoria, CA), Arte Contemporáneo (Mexico City), Chicago Underground Film Festival, CROSSROADS Film Festival, IC Docs (Iowa City),  Inside Out Art Museum (Beijing), Microscope Gallery (New York), Moving Image Festival (Scotland), Museo Tamayo, Oberhausen International Short Film Festival, and San Francisco Cinematheque’s Alchemy Film. Caplan’s work is represented by Gallery NAGA (Boston) and her films are distributed by Collectif Jeune Cinéma (Paris) and Filmmaker’s Cooperative (New York).

Ross Meckfessel, Estuary
2021 | 12:00 | 16mm stereo sound

When you question the very nature of your physical reality it becomes much easier to see the cracks in the system. Estuary charts the emotional landscape of a time in flux. Inspired by the proliferation of computer-generated social media influencers and the growing desire to document and manipulate every square inch of our external and internal landscapes, Meckfessel considers the ramifications of a world where all aspects of life are curated and malleable. As time goes on, all lines blur into vector dots.

Ross Meckfessel is an artist and filmmaker who works primarily in Super 8 and 16mm film. His films often emphasize materiality and poetic structures while depicting the condition of modern life through an exploration of apocalyptic obsession, contemporary ennui, and the technological landscape. His work has screened internationally and throughout the United States including in Antimatter Film Festival (Victoria, CA), IC Docs (Iowa City), Internationales Kurzfilm Festival Hamburg, New York Film Festival, San Francisco Cinematheque’s CROSSROADS Film Festival, The Artifact Small Format Film Festival (awarded best 16mm film), and Toronto International Film Festival.

Alison Nguyen, My Favorite Software Is Being Here
2020-21 | 19:47 

A collaboration between Nguyen and a machine learning program created with Achim Koh, Andra8 is a simulacral subaltern created by an algorithm and raised by the Internet in isolation in a virtual void. From the apartment where she has been “placed,” Andra8 works as a digital laborer, surviving off the data from her various “freemium” jobs as virtual assistant, data janitor, life coach, aspiring influencer, and content creator.  As she multitasks throughout the day, Andra8 is monitored and surveilled, finding herself overwhelmed by a web of global client demands. Something begins to trouble Andra8: her life depends on her compulsory consumption and output of human dataor so she’s been told. Andra8 explores the implications of such an existence, and what happens when one attempts to subvert them.

Alison Nguyen is a New York City-based artist whose work spans video, installation, performance, and new media. Her screenings include Ann Arbor Film Festival, Channels Festival International Biennial of Video Art, CPH:DOX, Edinburgh International Film Festival, e-flux, International Film Festival Oberhausen, Microscope Gallery, Open City Documentary Festival, San Francisco Cinematheque’s CROSSROADS Film Festival, and True/False Film Festival. Nguyen’s residencies and fellowships include BRIC, the International Studio & Curatorial Program, The Institute of Electronic Arts, Signal Culture, Squeaky Wheel Film and Media Art Center, and Vermont Studio Center. Her grant awards include the Foundation for Contemporary Art, NYSCA, and The New York Community Trust. In 2018, Filmmaker Magazine featured Alison Nguyen in their “25 New Faces of Independent Film.”  In 2021 she received a NYFA/NYSCA Artist Fellowship in Video/Film.

2019 | 2:19 | Super8 film transferred to video | Silent | Color

2019 | 2:27 | Super8 film transferred to video | Silent | Color

These poetically elliptical, darkly humorous pieces feature extreme close-ups of the detritus of online interactionemojis, gifsshot on Super8 film. This medium’s low resolution and prominent film grain defamiliarize the textureless screen images while out-of-sync framerates create a fluttering, off-kilter vision of the present as future past.

Matt Whitman is a New York City-based artist working with moving images, photography, installation, writing, and performance. He has exhibited and screened his work widely at such sites as 8 fest (Toronto), Anthology Film Archives (New York City), Brooklyn Film Festival (New York City), Ethan Cohen Gallery (New York City), La MaMa (New York City), SF Cinematheque (San Francisco), The Front (New Orleans), The Kitchen (New York City), The Lab (San Francisco), and Unexposed Microcinema (Durham, NC). He has taught at Parsons School of Design since 2014.


This project was made possible with funds from the County of Onondaga through the Tier Three Program administered by CNY Arts.