Jack Kerouac, as Sal Paradise once said: "I like too many things and get all confused and hung-up running from one falling star to another till i drop. This is the night, what it does to you. I had nothing to offer anybody except my own confusion." And I think that's a rather apt description of my blog over the years, and perhaps the most perfect description of me in general that I've ever read. So that's what this blog is, a collection of the falling stars that are beckoning me at any time.

25 June 2006

Signal Channel

The Bemis Center’s massive exhibition Signal Channel, is no one-trip affair. Spreading throughout all three galleries and the hallway of the Center’s 12th and Leavenworth space, the curators have collected an impressive array of video art from installation pieces to more traditional short film works. There’s so much to see that you can’t possibly handle it all in one go if you really want to give everything the attention it deserves.

The first gallery houses installations. Video interacts with objects and even the viewer as in the case of Gary Day, Russ Nordman and Anthony Trecek-King’s “The Book of Light and Dark,” a careful integration of print, animation and projection where the video projections are controlled by the page a book of prints is open to as the viewer looks through it.

David Zimmer’s brilliant LCD constructions feature videos of birds and bees in apothecary jars and odd scientific scopes, providing a creepy Victorian feel and a modern alternative to those dusty taxidermy animals in your grandfather’s attic. Zimmer’s best piece is the eerie and haunting “Sleeping Inside,” an antique wooden workbox from which Pascal Humbert’s melancholy music emanates whilst the LCD on top shows the fitful sleep of a man.

Phyllis Baldino’s “Cheeseboard/Not Cheeseboard” offers a witty exploration of form and function in everyday objects.

The back gallery featured mainly digital computer animation works including “Happenstance (part one of many parts)” by Gary Hill, but the room’s standout offering is Peter Campus’ analog “Edge of the Ocean.”

In Gallery Two, over ten TVs and two projectors provide a good mix of humorous and serious works from the psychedelic animation and horror film collage of Peter Burr and Christopher Doulgeris’ “Hooliganship: Go” to Mathieu Borysevicz’s funny meditations on media and social buzzwords.

Former Bemis resident Songyi Kim continues to demonstrate exceptional talent with “Polaroids.” Like Kim’s past works, “Polaroids” utilizes daily self portraits videotaped and edited to investigate identity and human experience in a visually poetic way, but here she uses the unique visual properties of the developing Polaroid print to introduce a ghostly and fragile quality.

One of the most shocking, but also the most diverse and enjoyable artists featured is Torsten Zenas Burns. Brilliantly bizarre and comical, spattered with rampant nudity and sometimes fake blood and looking like Stanislaw Lem on acid; Burns’ works, about an hour’s worth in all, revolve around the human experience: birth, death, our interactions with each other and our ever changing environments (also Zombies) set on a sci-fi space station. A naked Zombie soft shoes in the hygiene center and explains how he overcame his baser undead instinct to eat the crew and their families by munching on his own arm and deciding it wasn’t for him, crew members on ropes dance along the ceiling and manipulated footage culled from science programs set to Sarah McLachlan‘s “I Won’t Fear Love” all present a visually arresting look at the space-world his work exists in.

The monitor seemed neglected opening night, probably due to the substantial full frontal nudity and sexual connotations in some pieces, which is a shame because it’s definitely one of the most complex and satisfying works at the exhibition.

Also featured are two hours of work from William Wegman (better known for his portraits of his dogs, Man Ray and Fay Ray) and “The Order” from the third instalment of Matthew Barney’s seminal video series “The Cremaster Cycle.”

An impressive array of well-curated works, with something to offer the neophyte to video art and the well-versed alike, Signal Channel runs until August 12th and is one of this Summer’s must see exhibitions.

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