Jahmeila McGuckian

Dead Dad on a Beach

Bachelor of Visual Arts Sound Live Art Virtual reality Installation Intermedia Sculpture Art & Technology Indigeneity Performativity Identity
Dead Dad on a Beach installation, two VR (escapes I&II). Photo credit: Stefan Marks
AD20 Award
BC Collective Award
For a student working with Indigenous Aotearoa/Pasifika Contexts

I’ll only ever hear whispers of who you were; you're like a shadow that looks over me, looking out for me. You become a part of the wind

I hold a part of you in the wind, and in return, the wind gives me back some of you

It feels as so the wind has carried me through, a recharging present ascending over plains

Because on another plain is where you are,taken to a place where I can only imagine

But the presents of your shadow leaves a hole in my life, I look into the past, and it feels like looking into a ocean of are own reflection, we sway to the same movement, to the same beat, yet we will forever be a mystery to one another

And now the things that I have of yours are just becoming you

My identity feels hidden behind a cloak not ready to be seen until I find myself a part of me that thinks that when I find you, maybe I'll find me

The VR world in itself is a realm of reality where the mind is discounted from the body and is transported to another plane. It is quite literally like an outer-body experience. Virtual reality is a limitless realm. I’ve used this medium to portray my own perception of what I imagine my father's so-called “afterlife” would feel like. I find that both VR and the idea of the afterlife are intertwined with the concept of disembodiment of this reality. It's a symbolic construct of where souls go and the link between our world and theirs. Dead Dad on a Beach is based on a collection of stories and visions told to me about my father’s death. The first VR escape is my own artistic delusion of where I choose to believe my father's soul resides. While the second VR escape is more about how I feel his presence in the real world. They both are veiled figures, to which there are many reasons behind it. The mystery behind who is under it ties to the fact that I never really knew my father and that he never really got to know me.

I’ve always felt a severed connection between myself and my Pacifica heritage. This disconnection is due to the fact that my father died when I was five years old. Dead Dad on a Beach, in a way, is a coping mechanism for me dealing with the fact that I will never really get to know my father in this plane. It’s a very (strange) feeling to feel so much loss and longing for a person to whom you never really knew, but at the same time to be so intertwined together, mind, body and soul. Being told by many of his friends that I am so much like him. We have the same personality, sense of humour, style and ora yet I never really knew him, but in saying that he is half of who I am.