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This web site presents
the work of Esther Parada
accompanied by texts taken
from her writings.

The Monroe Doctrine
Define/Defy the Frame

Enlarge image.

The Monroe Doctrine, Part One:
Theme & Variations,

This 1987 work is generated from a single digitized image: a 1927 historical photograph of U. S. Marine Corps officers reviewing members of the newly formed Nicaraguan National Guard. That image, embedded in a map of North and South America, is what I call a matrix image because it serves as an overall background, or foundation, for additional photographs and text. It also epitomizes for me the irony of the Monroe Doctrine: our government rejected Old World domination while flexing its own military muscle in this hemisphere. Four quotations from U.S. government leaders during various periods in our past (1806-1937), digitally woven into the fabric of the map, elaborate the imperialist assumptions implicit in our current military involvement in Latin America.

This piece—as well as later works in this series (The Monroe Doctrine, Part Two: School of the Americas (1988) and Define/Defy the Frame (1989) play the obviously pixelated quality of the matrix image, generated wit a low-resolution computer paint program, against the higher-resolution greyscale images developed through a more sophisticated paint program. This strategy of resolution shift is most effective when the piece is seen at its intended size (as a 4' x 6' or 8' x 12 wall installation), because the pixel pattern, or overview, is only decipherable at a distance. Meanwhile, the viewer can identify higher-resolution details embedded in the low-resolution matrix image. This viewing process simulates or parallels the relationship between public and private, historical and contemporary events. As we become absorbed with the day-to-day details or “current events” of our lives, we may fail to see — or we may be discouraged from seeing — the historical pattern (in this case, hegemonic U.S. foreign policy) of which these details are a part.

—Excerpt from Parada's essay, "Taking Liberties: Digital Revision as Cultural Dialogue," Leonardo, Vol. 26, No. 5, pp. 445-450, 1993

Artist Statement

In the collection of The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

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