Joe Pease: Breathing Life Into The Mundane

Written by Emma Quin. All images are stills taken from Pease’s work.

Sometimes anything can be everything. 

Joe Pease is a surrealist, multimedia artist cataloguing and interpreting everyday life. Working with the manipulation of layers within motion graphics software like After Effects, Pease’s work is characterised by texture and dimension, training the viewer to look closer and discover the multitude of worlds and experiences hidden within his work. Under a filter of dreamy fuzz, reminiscent of VHS tapes and home videos, Pease borrows from our daily mundane experiences and routines, infusing them with layers of absurdity. The Kafka-esque surrealism blended with the aesthetic of Girl Skateboards skit videos Pease enjoyed in his younger days, collectively creates mesmerising pieces of art, which are usually set in car parks. 

Objects and parts of life that have never been perceived as beautiful or poignant are brought to the foreground, as Pease injects vitality and sensation into what we have long deemed lifeless and inane. As Pease’s art elevates the beauty in everyday life, we relate and connect with his work as it reflects our shared experiences. Target carrier bags and computers, stop signs and road junctions; objects and environments we encounter within our daily lives ebb and flow throughout each work, in movements replicating a stream of consciousness; coming and going in delicate waves. This is best seen in Pease’s All At Once, an infinite collage of people and objects moving through life in predestined directions, in a way which is so chaotic yet calming. 

Stills from All At Once

Alongside the presence of cultural signifiers and the depiction of the everyday, the absurd and surreal is always present within these moments. In 11:22 am, people repeatedly fall to the ground, or multiples of one individual flood the screen in a wave-like motion. The characters within Pease’s work are all designed with a small oddity, which, when layered together, creates a mirage of the mundane. In works like Everything Is Temporary, the landscapes and surroundings hold the absurd as the character remains constant whilst life moves past him. The stark contrast and illogical order of each scene the character is placed within, seemingly treats all of the good and bad times the character experiences as equal, reminding the viewer of the transient, temporal nature of life. This visual paired with the immaculate sound design, encourages us to recognise our lives as a collection of moments, none of which hold more value than the other. 

Stills from 11:22am

Pease’s ability to breathe life into the mundane comes at a time when we need the safety and stability of everyday life more than ever. As neo-liberal individualism continues to alter our societal fabric, and global politics and culture become more volatile, we are increasingly becoming detached from the world around us. Finding beauty, intrigue and therefore value in our routine and consistent experiences as Pease does, perhaps can help us find a sense of solace and calm in this world, whilst simultaneously reminding us of the fleeting nature of our existence.

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