USF student reaches Guggenheim with 'Alice in Wonderland' mashup

Like a lot of children, Lindsay Scoggins grew up watching the Cheshire Cat and Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland. Years later, one scene in particular stands out in her mind: the caterpillar blowing smoke at Alice.

"It's a moment you would never see in a modern-day animation for children,'' she said. "People like to debate about what he's smoking but, regardless, he's smoking in a children's film. It's an enormous signifier to changing times.''

The University of South Florida art student took that moment and combined it with rap music to create an Internet sensation. Last month, the mashup video was named one of 25 videos selected for the Guggenheim Museum's prestigious YouTube Play. A Biennial of Creative Video.

"It's amazingly well-crafted,'' said Robert Lawrence, her digital video and electronic art professor at USF. "It's one of those rare pieces of work where everyone gets it, and yet it's a smart piece of work.''

Her work, titled Wonderland Mafia, splices together video from the animated Disney classic with audio from the song Smokin' on Da Dro by rappers Three 6 Mafia. She liked the parallels between the media and the group's blunt, in-your-face attitude.

Scoggins spent more than 200 hours last year matching tiny pieces of the video with each syllable of the music. She looked for body movements and facial expressions in the characters to pair with the words and feeling of the music. What resulted was a new narrative of an old one.

By the time Scoggins submitted it for the Guggenheim's contest in July, Wonderland Mafia had 1 million views on YouTube. In a coincidental stroke of luck, Tim Burton's movie version of Alice in Wonderland was a box-office hit.

A Guggenheim jury panel selected the 25 videos from more than 23,000 submissions from 91 countries. Scoggins' was the only one based on a children's animated video.

The winning artists received a trip to New York City for the exhibit's premiere party Oct. 21. The show ran Oct. 22-24 at the Guggenheim's locations in New York; Bilboa, Spain; Berlin; and Venice, Italy. Each displayed the videos in a grid connected to headsets for listening to each.

The experience cemented Scoggins' plans to pursue a master's degree in New York City after she graduates in December. One day she hopes to teach or show video art at galleries.

This wasn't the first time her video art has gained worldwide fame. Her video of Miss Piggy singing F--k the Pain Away by Peaches has logged nearly 2 million views since Perez Hilton gave it a nod in 2008. Video jocks have played it at Ybor City's Czar.

Like Wonderland Mafia, the video challenges conventional ideas about media.

"I feel like people should be shocked by media a little more," she said. "Maybe they should be a little more skeptical when watching things.''

Wonderland Mafia

To watch Lindsay Scoggins' videos, including Wonderland Mafia, go to youtube.com/waambat. To see all 25 videos in the Guggenheim Museum's YouTube Play. A Biennial of Creative Video, go to guggenheim.org.

USF student reaches Guggenheim with 'Alice in Wonderland' mashup 11/18/10 [Last modified: Thursday, November 18, 2010 4:03pm]

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