Jeremy Blake is best remembered for his seamless merging of painterly efforts with digital imagery. Mod Lang is the first in a three-part series—with Berkshire Fangs, 2001, and Chemical Sundown, 2001—of digitally animated works loosely based on the life of Blake’s fictional protagonist Keith “Slick” Rhoades, a rebellious, working-class youth who recalls Jimmy Cooper from The Who’s epic rock opera Quadrophenia, 1973. Living in the mid-1960s, Rhoades is smart and yet naïve; he flails about in the world with eyes wide open and a pocket full of mind-altering substances. When he wrecks his scooter on a rainy London night and suffers brain damage, he sets out to design his own brand of visionary architecture.
Mod Lang represents the architectural structure for an experimental house that was Rhoades’s first project after his accident. Its imagery is reminiscent of the abstract works of Color Field painters such as Helen Frankenthaler, Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, and Mark Rothko. Blake commented that he used “abstraction to haunt representational space. Mixing architectural and abstract imagery into a kind of time-based, painterly hallucination is the most satisfying way I’ve found to represent the uncanny.” Mod Lang also incorporates suspenseful musical cues, which, Blake added, “function as mood control” and are meant to be “extremely disorienting when used in a largely abstract, time-based artwork.”
Label from DECADE: Contemporary Collecting 2002–2012, August 21, 2012–January 6, 2013