Jeff Frost – Circle of Abstract Ritual (2014)

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This film took 300,000 photos, riots, wildfires, paintings in abandoned houses, two years and zero graphics to make. It changed my entire life.

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Circle of Abstract Ritual began as an exploration of the idea that creation and destruction might be the same thing. The destruction end of that thought began in earnest when riots broke out in my neighborhood in Anaheim, California, 2012. I immediately climbed onto my landlord’s roof without asking and began recording the unfolding events. The news agencies I contacted had no idea what to do with time lapse footage of riots, which was okay with me because I had been thinking about recontextualizing news as art for some time. After that I got the bug. I chased down wildfires, walked down storm drains on the L.A. River and found abandoned houses where I could set up elaborate optical illusion paintings. The illusion part of the paintings are not an end in themselves in my work. They’re an intimation of things we can’t physically detect; a way to get an ever so slight edge on the unknowable. Continue reading

Ken Jacobs – Canopy (2014)

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Ken Jacobs’ most recent stroboscopic work transforms a typical New York street scaffolding scene into a mesmeric, Christo-esque merry-go-round.

In his most recent stroboscopic work, Canopy, Ken Jacobs sets a typical New York street scaffolding scene into mesmeric, gravity-defying motion. An elegant, immersive miniature with a strange faux stereoscopic effect, it takes off like a Christo-wrapped gravitron. Continue reading

Hito Steyerl – Liquidity Inc. (2014)

Hito Steyerl is a Berlin-based artist and writer who’s new work, Liquidity Inc., is presented here. Liquidity Inc., which exhibited at the London Institute of Contemporary Art in April 2014, takes up liquidity as a concept in all of its physical, metaphorical, bodily, spiritual, meteorological and financial forms. In the main the film follows Jacob Wood a financial worker fired during the recent major economic crisis who now has a career in mixed martial arts. Continue reading

Guillermo Moncayo – Echo Chamber (2014)

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A radio, a warning repeated in a loop, intuition of a catastrophe that slowly approaches through the ruins and houses of a tropical rainforest. A natural disaster is coming, a natural disaster is coming, a natural disaster is coming… The paradox and its danger are served: a warning endlessly repeated may become a strange peace message. Continue reading

Christopher Petit – Content (2010)

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At one point in Chris Petit’s haunting new film Content, we drive through Felixstowe container port. It was an uncanny moment for me, since Felixstowe is only a couple of miles from where I live – what Petit filmed could have been shot from our car window. What made it all the more uncanny was the fact that Petit never mentions that he is in Felixstowe; the hangars and looming cranes are so generic that I began to wonder if this might not be a doppelgänger container port somewhere else in the world. All of this somehow underlined the way Petit’s text describes these “blind buildings” while his camera tracks along them: “non-places”, “prosaic sheds”, “the first buildings of a new age” which render “architecture redundant”. Continue reading

Bill Viola – Hatsu Yume (1981)

« I was thinking about light and its relation to water and to life, and also its opposite – darkness or the night and death. I thought about how we have built entire cities of artificial light as refuge from the dark. »
Video treats light like water – it becomes a fluid on the video tube.
Water supports the fish like light supports man. Land is the death of the fish. Darkness is the death of man. »
Bill Viola, 1981

Hatsu-Yume (First Dream) is Bill Viola’s masterpiece, the greatest work by one of the most important video artists in the world. A spiritual allegory equating light and dark with life and death. Hatsu-Yume was produced in Japan in 1981 while Viola was artist-in-residence at the Sony Corporation. The title refers to Japanese folklore, wherein things done on the first day of a new year are significant. But the tape is not to be taken literally as a dream. For Viola, it’s more like the aboriginal concept of dreamtime, the creation of the world. That’s why, as a whole and in its parts, Hatsu-Yume progresses from darkness to light, stillness to motion, silence to sound, simplicity to complexity, nature to civilization. There are two interwoven themes: the dark water world of fish, and Buddhist rituals invoking the souls of dead ancestors. As in a dream, we frequently can’t tell if these wordless streams of image and sound are unfolding in real time, slow-motion or time-lapse. A work of extravagant pictorial beauty, Hatsu-Yume represents the most painterly use of light in the history of video. Form is content: the light that lures fish to their death protects human life. At once ominous, majestic, mystical and deeply spiritual, Hatsu-Yume is the work of a visionary poet of image and sound. Continue reading

Sabine Bürger, Steve Roden & Machinefabriek – Lichtung (2010)

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The ‘Lichtung’ exhibition was a three-way project centered around an audio-visual installation. The American visual and sound artist Steve Roden and the Dutch sound artist and musician Rutger Zuydervelt provided the audio whilst the German visual artist Sabine Bürger provided the video element. Additionally each of the artists exhibited examples of their own work on paper addressing the interface between the audio and the visual. Continue reading