December 19th, 2008

Zombie Scare

Zombie Portrait Jillian

I realized today that I might be scaring people away from my website with the zombie portrait that currently fills the home page. It’s not very Christmasy, but then again, if you don’t like zombies, what are you doing here?

Then again I don’t like zombies, they scare the crap out of me.

December 19th, 2008


Snowed in today due to cancelled transportation, I’ll take the opportunity to mention belatedly a few artworks seen recently. Despite the inconvenience, there’s something romantic about snow days. Perhaps it’s my inner Winnipeger who remembers the pleasures of tunneling endlessly through the snowbanks of my youth, blinking hard to melt eyelash icicles, and the sound of the most delicate puddle-ice layers breaking softly beneath muffled feet.

Here are three enchanting artworks I saw recently:

#1. Leandro Erlich’s Swimming Pool at P.S.1, image below, is a one-liner that does not fall flat once you discover the magic secret. Visit it before Sept 2009, and make sure to take the top view first. If you’re like me you’ll be tempted to slip into the clear blue, and sink deep to the bottom.


More about the artist here.

#2. Børre Sæthre’s Stealth Distortion (…must have seen it in some teenage wet dream), image below, is also at P.S.1.

Borre Saethre

This installation could do without the rooms of “smoky mirror, plexiglass, and bare light bulb” peep show palace theatrics that are disjointed from the crown jewel, but the wizard behind the curtain is a foggy creature quite sublime – is there or isn’t there a unicorn in the room?

#3. Kelly Mark‘s The Kiss, image below from Platform Gallery in Seattle, was at The Aqua Hotel in Miami during the art fairs.

Kelly Mark

Installed cosily in a closet, the quaint TV bodies glowed cooly pink from their twin bubble glass faces barely touching, and I couldn’t help but feel I’d walked in on some lucky teenager’s 7 minutes in heaven. If I peeked another minute they’d have turned like Dave from 2001, caught and blinking innocently out from his space helmet.

2001 Space Odyssey

December 13th, 2008

Stolen Kisses – I love a surprise

Mike Peters

My work in the past few years has been as much about fan subcultures and audiences as about the films they love. Fan fiction – where fans create new scenarios from familiar narratives, thus subverting them – captivates me.

I had dinner with friend and performance artist Carrie Dashow the other night and she slipped me a DVD that said “Play Me” (Alice in Wonderland style)- very sneakily I might add. I dropped it into my computer the next morning to find a fabulous surprise. One of her Purchase students, Mike Peters, made a video response to my work Screen Kiss following a recent lecture I gave. It is quite wonderful. What’s that quote about imitation and flattery?

Above is a still from Steal a Kiss. You can see a few more stills on his website – click on “Projects”, but sadly not the video itself. I laughed so hard I almost fell off my chair. Mike if you’re reading this – put the video online!


Update: Dec 20,
(originally posted as a comment from Mike Peters)

“Thank you, Jillian. I’m glad you liked it. Steal a Kiss is now online. Unfortunately, I no longer have access to the server hosting my original site, but the video is on youtube. I’ll be working on a new web page in the near future. Until then…. for your fans:

Thanks again. Love your work.”

December 5th, 2008

I always love car ads

Brace yourself for this one…

November 30th, 2008

Zombies on your desktop

zombie screensaver

Picture this: while you step away from your computer, bloodthirsty and none-too-slow 3D zombies take over the screen. These ones have no sense of humour whatsoever as they emerge from a blurry screen surface, track their messy footprints over open documents, and snarl soundlessly. Pity the poor soul who tries to access your files…

Download available for Mac OSX only.

November 6th, 2008

Barack Obama!

How exciting to be in New York for this long needed change of guard!
As a non-voter feeling a bit helpless, it is wonderful to witness the United States elect a president who is both deeply intelligent and cares about his country’s future and status worldwide. I did not think this would happen, but am proud to be here to experience it.

September 28th, 2008

Zombies in Condoland Countdown!

If you find yourself in Toronto on the night of October 4th, please come participate in Zombies in Condoland, a new performance in which anyone can star!

October 4th to 5th, 7pm to 7am (all night long!)
Nuit Blanche Toronto

Zombies in Condoland, a large scale performance commissioned by curator Gordon Hatt for Nuit Blanche Toronto, continues my interest in the horror film genre, grafting it onto the phenomenon of urban gentrification. Referencing Toronto’s rich history of zombie movies, the annual Toronto Zombie Walk, and the condoization of downtown artist communities, McDonald directs a legion of zombies who will perform in various late night film scenes in Toronto’s College Park. Zombies in Condoland is a series of night actions that mimic a film set for a low budget horror film such as those by director George Romero whose latest film, Diary of a Zombie, was filmed in Toronto.

Zombies achieved cult status in the past few years, with their popularity growing wildly. Enormously popular zombie walks and pub crawls occur annually in cities like Toronto, Montréal, San Francisco, Austin, Vancouver, and Liverpool. Zombies are instantly recognizable and carry a metaphoric reference to the working class. The Zombies in Condoland are responding to gentrification, moving in on an area which is rapidly changing.

The Zombies in Condoland website invites participation and provides information about the project. Zombies are encouraged to come in character – nurse zombie, business person zombie, geek zombie, sports zombie. They are encouraged also to do their makeup en route, in cafes, bars, and mass transit for more zombie fun! Zombies will also be created on site by professional makeup artists, therefore no experience is necessary. Instructional videos and a map are included on website.

Very very special thanks to Nuit Blanche, Chambre Blanche (Québec), Gordon Hatt, and Thea Munster of The Toronto Zombie Walk.

September 24th, 2008

Bust out the Zombies

October’s issue of Bust magazine has a nice article about my zombies, by Molly Simms. Click the image below to read a larger version online. It took hours for the photographer to take the photo, which means I am extremely un-photogenic, as are lenticular images – one of which is in the background. Someone give that boy a medal.

jillian mcdonald bust magazine

September 1st, 2008

Today’s video still after hours of rotoscoping Zombies at The Headlands


September 1st, 2008

Zombie Wine

zombie zin

Sarah Juliet Lauro, PhD student at The University of California Davis with whom I have been corresponding for months, dropped by The Headlands studio yesterday with this fantastic bottle of wine. We sat in the sun and discussed our zombie research.

The back label of this vintage, from Healdsburg, California reads, “2004 Zombie Zinfandel is blood-red in color, horridly rich in concentrated fruit flavors with a finish that never dies.”

shahzad zombie

Later in the evening a spasmodic zombie circa 1940 lurched across the field. I hid behind the trees.