History in RGB is an exploration of individual and collective history as viewed through multiple lenses. Representing images of history, popular culture, mythic folklore, landscapes, and creatures, History in RGB proposes alternatives to the systemic representations ordered by colonial narratives.
Each print is a juxtaposition of images that have been stripped of color, then re-assigned with the value of a specific color based on a “tropical” Pantone palette. The re-assignment of color is based on the value system set by red, green or blue. Viewing the print through one of the three filters, selected images become visible while simultaneously obscuring other elements. While the filters become tools for revelation and clarity for a monochromatic narrative, they also produce a mottled background by obfuscating the other narratives that exist on the same surface.
My interest in how images and, by extension, history, desire, and experience, are mediated phenomena is essential to how I create and present my art, through which I challenge the social standards and assumptions that affect behavior, including my own, in contemporary life. As technology and the digital media continue to encroach upon and influence our understanding of meaning and reality, the images with which we are constantly confronted are redefining forces on human consciousness.
As an immigrant, a part of a Filipino diaspora, and an image producer, I seek to critique the narratives that I grew up learning and hearing, as well as narratives that I have more recently learned and unlearned. Growing up and adapting to signs and languages of power — the Spaniards and Americans as colonizers, the Catholic church as moral authoritarian, and the supremacy of Western art training — it felt essential for me to challenge and reconstruct these accepted narratives. By combining Filipino narratives drawn from written and unwritten stories and myths with formal issues in art (color and mediation of image interaction), I expose the hierarchy set forth by different value systems. Formally, I construct an immersive setting where the viewer interacts with the work. Engaging in the space, where the viewer peeks through vegetation and looks through lenses to discover a verdant jungle, the viewer is cast in the role of a voyeur. Harvesting historical images, photographing, and dealing with the physical properties of color itself, I manipulate, reframe and construct new narratives. My work focuses on bringing the audience into consciously looking at representation, where light, color and image become powerful experiential occurrences that convey critical insights on contemporary life, including the subconscious power of capitalism and the unknown histories of the oppressed.
Maria Dumlao was born in the Philippines and immigrated to the USA with her family at age 13. She is a visual artist working in various combined media, including film, video, sound, photography, and installation. Dumlao’s work has been exhibited, screened and performed at venues including Art in General, Momenta Art Gallery and Schroeder Romero Gallery in NYC, Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago, The Contemporary Museum in Hawaii, and internationally. In the last year, exhibitions include a solo at Vox Populi Gallery, a solo at Black Oak House and a commissioned work at Asian Arts Initiative, in Philadelphia, and a two-person exhibition at Recitation Gallery in University of Delaware, an artist residency at Atlantic Center for the Arts, and an artist presentation/panel during the Society of Photographic Education’s Annual Conference. Dumlao is a recipient of 2017 Leeway Foundation Art & Change grant. Dumlao has received a BA in Studio Art/Art History from Rutgers College and a MFA in Studio Art at Hunter College-CUNY. Dumlao is an Associate Professor of Art at Bucks County Community College. Her current work, History in RGB, explores individual and collective history as viewed through multiple lenses. Using images of history, popular culture, mythic folklore, landscapes, and creatures, she proposes alternatives to the systemic representations ordered by colonial narratives.