2002 – 2003
In Pyromania, John A Douglas satirises and critiques the Australian male culture and identity — the fighter/hero/digger, etc — using psychiatric photographic history, psychoanalytic clichés and ‘what might have been’ to create a simulation of the disorder. Part autobiographical and part fictional, the result is a performative tableaux and spatial installation incorporating video soundscape and sculptural lightboxes.
Douglas has located the disorder within a particular time and place in Australian as well as a personal history; his boyhood in the 1960s. The soundscape captures a feeling of underlying menace; the terror of the child trapped by dysfunctional and self-destructive codes of maleness (wrought in childhood by abusive fathers), the antihero, the bad boy lighting fires and causing havoc.
Hotbed and Pyroboy, two red lightboxes turn the entire gallery space red as looped video of a bushfire plays in an inset screen, evoking the intensity of heat and rage of an out of control fire and a small redheaded boy who liked lighting fires.
Pyromania was John A Douglas’ BFA (hons) project at the College of Fine Arts in 2002.
Performers: Dr James Bucknell, John A Douglas, Dr Peter Hill, Melanie Ryan
DV Cam: John A Douglas, Dr Jacquelene Drinkall
Large Format Camera: Alex Kershaw
Sound Recordist: John A Douglas
Video and Sound Editing: John A Douglas
Lightbox and Installation Design: John A Douglas
Make up: Melanie Ryan