Peggy and Fred in Kansas

1987, 11 min, b&w, sound

Peggy and Fred in Hell, Thornton's ongoing and open-ended series, maps a surreal, quasi-apocalyptic realm littered with the detritus of a pop culture bursting at the seams. Castaways in this wilderness of signs, Peggy and Fred are, as Thornton states, "raised by television," their experience shaped by a palimpsest of science and science-fiction, new technologies and obsolete ones, half-remembered movies and the leavings of history. An exploration of the aesthetics of narrative form as well as the politics of the image, Thornton's rigorously experimental oeuvre has forged a unique and powerful syntax.

Peggy and Fred in Kansas is one of the earliest installments in Thornton's Peggy and Fred in Hell series. Thornton represents the outside world with archival footage of rugged terrain and industrial wastelands. We are introduced to the post-apocalyptic room where the children act and re-enact a disjointed play on media narratives. Though the seemingly isolated room is furnished with typically domestic objects, in the hands of the "children raised on television" these items appear as props for the purpose of performing adult affectation. Peggy and Fred channel their isolation like open radios, as if boredom were the frequency from which media is transmitted.

With: Janis and Donald Reading