In her films and installations, Nicole Miller explores the transformative capabilities of the moving image to reconstruct interpretations of self and culture. Specifically, Miller’s videos focus on the interplay between preconception and reality in terms of African American identity. In Miller’s hands, film transforms into a powerful storytelling tool wielded for the possible reconstitution of lost histories and identities.
For the High Line, Miller presents her silent seven-minute video work, The Conductor (2009). The video depicts an African American young man in a blazer and Jimi Hendrix t-shirt against a nonspecific background of gold, white, and crimson bursts of color. His head jerks and his face contorts and stretches, ranging in expression from bliss to concern, as his body seems to spasm. The viewer’s original preconceptions of a disturbed subject are overturned only with the aid of the title. The man’s expressive motions reflect his occupation – he is conducting an orchestra. Lacking a conductor’s baton, symphony space, musicians, and sound, the protagonist is completely divorced from its functional context.
Photos by Timothy Schenck.