Dylan De Rose, 1998 (& 1999)

It was the year of 1998, equipped with a Micky Mouse groupie haircut, we ventured into the fantastical land of Disney world. Sat in the apartment we had booked out, the rooms become vivid as I remember each layout, each room, and one precise moment lain in front of the first plasma screen I had ever seen, boasting my Marks and Spencer’s own England shirt. It was red. At the youthful age of 8, the moment appears a joyful memory, sitting by the pool, clinical in my mind blowing up the beach ball I had happily made my mum purchase. Vague clips of serene scenery play in my mind as I track back to 1998, remembering fondly of being stood next to my sister and vomiting to the right, only for my mum to magnet toward me, leaving my sister drenched (there is no right way of mentioning that moment).

It is these moments in passing, the purpose of Orlando, for others and me, is to house Disney Land, a corporation reliant on the invisible notion of fantasy, in a venture made up of plastic walls and smiling faces. Its purpose, stays in the minds of many as a leisure location, built purely for our youthful consumption. It is only when we age a handful of times is when the rose tinted spectacles begin to unfold, and a wave of truth becomes the only visible scene. Knowing too much can nudge out illusion and fantasy for the more we know, the less like children we become. And so it is the experience of Dylan’s photographs that uncover the notion of positive deceit, as moments we once saw and felt with such intensity, lay dense and quiet. Still and silent, almost haunting in they’re approach to us. The fog that once made us flock to Goofy (maybe that was just me) as we saw him rolling out of his trailer to get an autograph, we realise the famous article we now own is a signature from a worker. It is this stark reality that is inevitable, the more we know and experience.

Walls become additional, on top of a practical layer, the thin layer of cream on top of trifle. For its scent and taste is so sweet, as children we never considered its base layer. An air of calm swims around as if we are no longer running around the location, but stepping through the patchy memories left. Bearing in mind their potential to rival deceit, their stone face glare does not deplete our memories, merely places them into a more sensible context. For if we were in these locations, we would surely retract our years and forget what we already know.

The structure of the series relies on a methodical route, following objects through to their logical conclusions, as oranges lead us from an orange tree, signage transports us to large plastic reptiles. All used to sweeten the deal, yet the view we uncover stands on two feet instead of hopping uncontrollably. I dare to say it is the adult in us that makes this view possible, and should our 8-year-old selves view these images, we would breeze past them. It is their aesthetic subtly that makes the important, for they do not discuss ‘kitch’ ideas, but a dawning reality. And such a reality is strangely difficult to take, as our youth, as we might have clung to notions of Santa and how he managed to slip past the house alarm or somehow fit down the chimney, it is the positive cynics within us that take on-board this gentle acceptance, for our youth may not be so early anymore but that excited spirit never escapes us.  

Instead we view the area as intelligent, developed people, using our experiences thus far to alter how we feel about them. For if my sister saw these photographs she would surely remember the alternate reality that happened with her as she was bombarded with her brother’s dinner. And, perhaps it is just the mist that keeps it alive for us, that keeps the hand to pull us up from the cliff, that stops us from feeling excited about the aspects of life we now know too much about. As this magic spark helps us enter another word, one of responsibility but viewing it with the eye of a parent, not the passenger. As we may look upon our memories of these places entirely different come 20 years, taking up our positions of spectators to our children’s lives.