San Francisco Electronic Music Festival (SFEMF): Art Installations

In addition to the main concerts, this year’s San Francisco Electronic Music Festival featured a concurrent gallery exhibition. It took place at Million Fishes in the Mission District of San Francisco, and featured a variety of works that combined sound and visuals. I had the opportunity to visit the gallery on the Saturday of the festival, just before that night’s concert.

I have experienced Matthew Goodheart’s work with transducer-excited cymbals a few times now, most notably in his solo performance at the Outsound Music Summit. Here, he arranged them around the front room over the gallery to create an immersive installation called …silence through things secret….


The installation dominated the main room both visually and aurally, with the late-afternoon sun reflecting off the cymbals, and a variety of sounds echoing around the room. Computer-generated sounds were created from analysis of the resonances of each cymbal and recordings of each instrument played in a variety of manners. The sounds were then used to excite the cymbals via small transducers.


[Photo: PeterBKaars.com.]

Because the sound from the cymbals is acoustic, the only notion one has of electronics at work is the fact that they are standing on their own without anyone there to play them. But there is nonetheless something otherwordly about the visuals and sounds of the unattended cymbals. Goodheart’s piece was part of a larger project he has developed in conjunction withe Center foew New Music and Audio Technologies (CNMAT) at UC Berkeley.

Giant Leap, the result of collaboration by Floor van de Velde and Elaine Buckholtz, paid tribute to the late Neil Armstrong and the 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing. The audio-and-visual work combined an anaglyph image of the moon with a sound score realized using modified rotary telephones.

The moon landing and the sounds associated with that achievement are still quite fresh, but the use of rotary telephones reminds us just how long ago this achievement took place. I consider rotary phones a particularly endangered technology in that it bears so little resemblance to contemporary phones in both form and function.

Dan Good presented two small kinetic sound sculptures. Artificial Lung combined standard speaker drivers in a novel way. They were pressed against one another a driven with a 1Hz sine wave. While the signal is far below the range of human hearing, the pressure on the speakers was visible and created the illusion of a breathing organism.


[Photo: PeterBKaars.com.]

In, Good’s sculpture Petri Dish, small glass spheres are pulled up and down in a glass bowl and tubes. The sound of the glass is subtle, but the visual is quite striking, especially when it is moving (the photograph does not really capture this aspect.)

Both of Good’s sculptures draw upon simple shapes, lines and processes to create something conceptually compact and understandable. As such, they play to the strengths of modernism – something refreshing to see in a contemporary setting,

SFEMF has featured installations before, usually as fixtures in the lobby during concerts. I thought separating it out into a gallery presentation worked well and allowed the pieces the chance to be seen outside the shadow of the live performances and milling crowds. I hope they do this again next year.

Getting Ready for Ghost House

“Obake Yashiki” (Ghost House) officially opens tonight at Arc Studios and Gallery in San Francisco. The project is a collaboration with artists Priscilla Otani and Judi Shintani, and combines sound, Japanese lanterns and “deconstructed kimonos”. Here is a view of the installation:

And the project statement:

An atmospheric space in-between worlds is glimpsed in this installation. Fragments of sound from crickets, chanting monks and Japanese instruments envelope Japanese lanterns, womanly silhouettes and floating deteriorating kimonos. Obake Yashiki or Ghost House, is a dwelling place of spirits that continue to haunt us. They cannot find their peaceful resting place due to tragic occurrences during their lifetimes. The exhibition calls attention to women around the world whose lives have been taken due to earthly disasters and violent human interaction. We honor the spirits who are trapped between life and death in hopes they may find peace and resolution.

A lot of work went into making this installation happen, including hanging the kimonos and approximately 100 lanterns! But three of the lanterns were also outfitted with tiny speakers and MP3 players to create the immersive soundscape in the space:

The assemblage works quite well, and the sounds emanating from the lantern clusters adds to the overall eerie quality of the piece. Of course, portable electronic devices need to be recharged, so we have the odd visual today of Japanese lanterns being recharged via USB cables (i.e., like an iPhone) ahead of tonight’s reception:

Hopefully everything is charged up later this afternoon and ready to go.

If you are in San Francisco this evening, feel free to drop by our free reception. It is at Arc Studios and Gallery, 1246 Folsom St, and goes from 6PM to 9PM. We are also planning an interesting closing program in October.

International Orange: Art for the Golden Gate Bridge at 75

Today we look at the ongoing International Orange exhibition here in San Francisco. As part of the celebrations for the 75th Anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge, sixteen artists were invited to create new works in response to the bridge. The results ranged from very concrete interpretations to more conceptual, and focused a variety of aspects from the iconic color to the architecture to the surrounding environment. All of the works were brought together at Fort Point in the shadow of the bridge for the show.

The bridge itself is a work of art on display at Fort Point, with unique views of the architectural detail that one does not see in the standard postcard shots.

The first formal piece to catch my attention was the sound-and-video installation by renowned multimedia artist Bill Fontana. It was in a dark alcove off the main courtyard of the fort, and focused primarily on sound derived from sensors and microphones that Fontana placed at various points on the bridge and Fort Point along with a live video of the underside of an expansion joint of the bridge. The result was an immersive aural experience anchored by the percussive rhythm of traffic over the expansion joins, the bridge’s cables and the waves at the shore. These elements worked together into a polyrhythmic “composition”, while the video helped orient the listener to the context of the bridge. I found Fontana’s piece to be both technically impressive (e.g., microphones on the bridge) and a captivating listening experience.

Several of the artists made literal use of the international orange color. Artist Stephanie Syjuco‘s installation simulates the typical souvenir store with mass-produced objects in that color, arranged in displays on tables and shelves.

The objects appear as those one might expect in the souvenir shop of an art museum (or next to the Golden Gate Bridge, for that matter), but the uniform color and lack of labeling gives it a strange quality, reminding the viewer that this is not an ordinary shop. It leaves space for the viewer to question the role of shops and commoditization in art without participating in it. Nothing was for sale – though visitors were encouraged to take a free postcard, which showed a solid international orange color field.

Anandamayi Arnold created seven paper dresses in the style of the Fiesta Queens from the original 1937 opening of the bridge – while most of them had the traditional colors and patterns associated with the style, the most striking one was entirely colored in international orange.

I am pretty sure the life-size dresses were in fact wearable, as I saw Arnold wearing either the piece shown above or one like it at ArtMRKT a few weeks before the opening of the exhibition.

Another project that directly featured the international orange color covered the railings overlooking the inner courtyard with swags of orange bunting that were created by female veterans in collaboration with artist Allison Smith. Orange textiles were also a part of Pae White’s “digitally woven tapestries” based on photographs of the fog that is more often than not part of the environment in and around the bridge.

The environment was a major theme of several other projects as well, as artists turned their attention away from the bridge itself to the surrounding water, air and land. Photographer David Liittschwager created an installation that examined the life within one cubic foot sections of water below the bridge. The result is a series of detailed images of life large and small mounted on cubes.

The images themselves could have easily been at home in a science museum rather than an art exhibit, but it is the way the dark pedestals are arranged and their contrast with the brick hallway that makes it art.

Camille Utterback presented an ambitious piece that used digital displays and custom software to create dynamic visual models of the patterns of water flow in the San Francisco Bay. Like Fontana’s work, it was presented in a dark alcove where the displays shown brightly with undulating patterns, but small portals in the wall allowed the viewer to contrast the actual flow of water under the bridge with the historical model. Abelardo Morell explored light and shadow with his camera-obscura installation. A pinhole is used to expand light from outside the fort in a large but grainy image characteristic of this old form of photography.

Other projects were more conceptual, drawing inspiration and organization from history and social context surrounding the bridge and the surrounding area. Cornelia Parker’s sculpture Reveille featured two bugles, one flattened and no longer playable. The piece is a a comment on Fort Point’s history – it was never called into action. Rather than hearing the sound of the bugles, we hear the acoustics of the vault with the wind and echoes of other visitors. The light also plays off the shapes creating more flattened copies of the instruments.

“Artist, historian, and urban strategist” Jeannene Przyblyski produced a virtual radio station K-BRIDGE that presents numerous stories, ideas and sound experiences suggested by the bridge, some of which are factual and some of which are not. The station is broadcast acoustically from a live installation as well as over WiFi to mobile devices and streaming on the internet. You can read and listen to samples here.

The installation is an interesting blend of old an new, with vintage “On Air” sign and wooden details as well as modern electronics for digital storage and wireless networking.

There are more pieces in the show that are not covered by this article. Overall, I am glad I was able to experience this artistic part of the 75th anniversary celebration, and in particular getting to see the pieces within the immediate environment of the bridge itself. The exhibition continues through October, so there is still plenty of time to see it.

Broadside Attractions

Broadside Attractions | Vanquished Terrains at Intersection for the Arts

Today we look at the show Broadside Attractions | Vanquished Terrains which is currently on display at Intersection for the Arts.


[Photo by Scott Chernis. Courtesy of Intersection for the Arts.]

This large and ambitious show, curated by Maw Shein Win and Megan Wilson with Kevin Chen of Intersection for the Arts, brings together twelve pairs of visual artists and writers to produce collaborative work centered around the historical broadside medium. A broadside is generally defined as a large sheet of paper printed on one side and designed to be plastered onto walls in public areas. They were historically used to announce events, proclamations or news in a very concise and public manner before the advent of the internet, broadcasting, or even printed newspapers. Like many media that have outlived their original practical purpose, the broadside continues on in more rarified form for artistic exploration, this show being one such example. For this exhibition, the teams followed a very specific process. First, each visual artist provided his or her collaborating writer with three data points based on the theme of “vanquished terrains”: a piece of music, a movie and a location. The writer then created a short piece that was then given back to the artist to create a small visual work in response to the writing. These were combined to form the historic broadsides, which consisted of the visual piece as a black-and-white printed graphic, followed by the text of written piece.


[Photo by Scott Chernis. Courtesy of Intersection for the Arts.]

Finally, each artist-and-writer pair created another piece that embodied the same ideas and concepts as the historic broadside but using any form or media. The final pieces were quite varied, united only by the connections to their respective broadsides and the process of collaboration. Some were very direct reinterpretations, while others were quite distant from a recognizable broadside. The majority were somewhere in between, with flat media of either physical and or digital varieties.


[Photo by Scott Chernis. Courtesy of Intersection for the Arts.]

The above piece, a collaboration of artist Matthew Rogers and writer Maw Shein Win, is typical of the experimentations with media to augment the traditional broadside concept. The piece is primarily a flat panel of mixed media on paper, with a segment of the space presenting a video, in this case an animation by Rogers with music and bits of a reading of the written piece. The overall feel of the both the visual piece and the poem had a very bleak quality. The prompt location was the Inland Empire, with its combination of stark desert landscape and overdevelopment. The latter is apparent in the poem, while the desert is more present in the visual media, with the video bridging the two with rather dystopian imagery.

Some pieces derived more directly from the original broadside concept. Indeed, one of the media that most captures the original intent in our particular time and place is the protest sign. In their collaborative piece, Megan Wilson interprets the central figure of Hugh Behm-Steinberg’s poem Ruby-Crowned Kinglets as part of a crowd of protest signs.


[Photo by Scott Chernis. Courtesy of Intersection for the Arts.]

The bright solid colors and simple text and graphics makes this piece stand out, even when just wandering by. At the same time, the image of the cartoon bird crying “Help!” has a fun quality to it. It was interesting way to bridge the contrast between protest art and more personal and descriptive nature of Behm-Steinberg’s poem. During the opening, visitors were invited to take one of the textual protest signs on the floor (but not to take any of the birds).

Video was a frequently used element to bring the broadside concept into the contemporary sphere. One of the most creative uses was by Eliza Barrios with writer Myron Michael. Several asynchronous video streams were projected onto a corner window, transforming the rectangular images into more angular shapes that were aligned perfectly to create the illusion that they were coming out of the window. In the center, a changing set of single words were projected. In watching this piece, I was trying to figure out how the words may relate to the images on either side.


[Installation view with Inaoko/Cortez second to left and Barrios/Michael on the right. Photo by Scott Chernis. Courtesy of Intersection for the Arts.]

Other interesting video pieces included artist Misako Inaoko with writer Jaime Cortez. Their stop-motion animation piece, which included text along with what appeared be live photographic images taken with an app like Instagram or Hipstamatic, created a low-fidelity loop of activity. The piece by Keiko Ishihara and Chaim Bertman revealed the frenetic pace of activity in Tokyo’s complex transit system. It seemed a world away from the location prompt of the South Pole, but quite related to the musical prompt, Brian Eno’s Music for Airports.

At the other end of the spectrum, there were several fully three-dimensional installations. The largest and most dramatic was a two-story installation by artist Karrie Hovey and writer Elise Ficarra that covered the spiral staircase of the gallery in felt representations of deer with stylized antlers and legs. Ascending the staircase to the upper level reveals a dark painted sky with floating text and butterflies. Deer may at first seem an odd choice for a piece whose text and imagery is about the plight of human intervention in nature – having grown up north of New York City, I can attest that deer are doing quite well for themselves – but the message in this piece relates specifically to the controversial killings of deer in Point Reyes national seashore.


[Photo by Scott Chernis. Courtesy of Intersection for the Arts.]

As a bonus, this piece also featured sound art via the work of composer Evelyn Ficarra. The generated sounds were diffused via numerous speakers embedded throughout the installation. The was the only piece to use sound design as an independent element (i.e., not part of a video), and of course I had to try and figure out more about it. The sounds appeared to be manipulated and processed from natural sources which was consistent with the theme. I think they were also multiple streams for the different speakers.

Another interesting large installation was the piece by artist Nathaniel Parsons and writer Ly Nguyen. I have seen several of Parson’s installations before, and this one had a similar home-made construction feel to it. But it was a bit more subtle, with a small hole in the side of the coarse wooden surface to reveal a “piece within a piece” inside.


[Photo by Scott Chernis. Courtesy of Intersection for the Arts.]

So how do pieces like these related at all to the original broadsides? They are still in very concise language “shouting” their point like a Tweet in their own varied proportions and media. And in this sense they retain the “broadside” spirit.

Perhaps the most conceptual take on the theme was Tea + Dialogues presented by writer Jenny Bitner and artist Liz Worthy. They constructed a “tea room” where visitors could sit down, enjoy a cup of tea and participate in dialogues with other visitors. The tea was served in custom ceramics created for the installation, and the walls were decorated with text.


[Photo by Scott Chernis. Courtesy of Intersection for the Arts.]

Visitors choose dialogues from a preselected list, many of which were quite humorous and at least one referenced the installation itself. In additional, visitors were offered a fortune cookie that contained a “miniature broadside.” The dialogues, fortune cookies, and embedded text on the walls all related back to the historic broadside but brought it into a more ubiquitous and interactive realm.

I did participate in a dialogue with another visitor whom I had not previously. It was fun to read, and had the minimalist awkward quality of mid-century experimental theater piece.

In addition to the printed broadside and installation, each piece included links to the source prompts, with QR codes that allowed visitors to access the source music and movies via their mobile devices while exploring the exhibition.

As one can tell from this review, the visual art and installations tended to overpower the written work, especially for those like me who tend to be more visually oriented. To help balance this out, the show included to readings where the writers were front and center, presenting their work in the show as well as related readings of their choice. As with the installations, there was a great variety of work, from short song-like poems to surreal fiction to personal recollections.

The show will remain at Intersection for Arts in San Francisco through May 26.

20110707-_MG_9122-560_c

The Book (Part 2) at SOMArts: Avy-K with Ken Ueno and Matt Ingalls

A week ago I attended a performance of The Book, a monthlong project by Avy-K Productions at SOMArts as part of their Commons Curatorial Residency prorgram. Avy-K, founded by long-time collaborators Erika Tsimbrovsky (choreographer/performer) and Vadim Puyandaev (visual artist/performer), specializes in multidisciplinary pieces combining contemporary dance, live music, live painting and evolving installations. The Book used these elements to present a framework for audience interaction and narrative.

From the online program notes:

The Book is an installation-performance series accompanying an ongoing exhibition based in experimental non-theater dance. Each performance is a random page from The Book, and each invites a different guest artist to enter the structure, created by Avy K Productions and collaborators, in order to destroy it and give it new life.

Matt Ingalls and Ken Ueno

The performance featured live improvised music by Matt Ingalls and Ken Ueno. I have of seen both of them perform in a variety of venues on numerous occasions, but never together as duo until now. There were many moments where Ingalls’ wind instruments and Ueno’s extended vocal work matched perfectly. In fact, the timbres of the voice and instruments were close enough to seem indistinguishable at times. Both performances held single pitched tones, with only slight variations the led to pronounced beating effects. At other moments, clarinet multiphonics were set against low intense growling, or Central Asian (i.e., Tuvan) throad singing. There were also percussive notes passed back and forth between the performers in sparse rhythmic patterns – something that worked well with the movement of the dancers. I was interested in some of the more unusual uses of instruments, such as Ueno’s combining of a clarinet bell and snare drum with vocalizations or Ingalls’ decomposition of the clarinet into subsections.

 

The dancers costumes featured “dresses” made of black-and-white patchworks that seemed to resemble newsprint on top of black – this costuming was used by both the male and female dancers. It matched the starkness of the room and the displays, which were mostly white with black text or markings. The music, dance movements and costumes provided plenty of empty space, which seemed in keeping with the stated mission of The Book for “artists and audience members [to] allow their personal stories to enter the performance space, creating a collective public diary.” The main source of bright colors were large paintings at various places on the wall – their significance would become apparent as the performance unfolded.

The dance began very subtly and quietly, with long pauses and brief motions that matched the soft percussive sounds from the voice and clarinet. The motion focused on dancers interacting in pairs or individual dancers interacting with the large white panels set up throughout the room, the floor, or their costumes.

As the dance continued, Vadim Puyandaev emerged in all black and began live-painting a new large-scale mural on one wall of the gallery. The painting used vibrant colors and it became clear that the colorful paintings I noticed earlier must have been the result of previous performances. As the painting progressed, the dancers gradually set down in close formation facing Puyandaev, as if in prayer or meditation. The music appropriately moved to a long clarinet drone and throat singing.

[Photo by Elena Zhukova, reprinted courtesy of SOMArts.]

As the next section of the performance began, the audience was invited to gather around one particular set of curtains. The shadowy figures of two dancers could be seen through the curtain, with the outline of their bodies coming in and out of focus. They emerged very gradually from underneath the curtain, first a foot poking out, then a head and neck, squeezing out like a caterpillar, As they fully emerged, the two dancers came together in slow, undulating and curving motions. This part of the performance was, to say the least, rather sexually charged. After continuing for a period of time, the dancers separated and retreated behind the curtain.

Photo by Elena Zhukova, reprinted courtesy of SOMArts

The final section of the performance was more heterogenous in terms of content, with a greater variety of motions and interactions with the space. Large rolls of paper were spread out on the floor – a dancer proceeded roll himself up in one of these. Square holes were cut in some of the white curtains to create windows that performers peeked through. A large circle was created which some dancers followed as if on a monorail. Over time, the dancers one by one exchanged their costumes for “street clothing” – basically, the sort of things one might wear when to attend a serious art performance like this but remain casual. Were it not for the deliberate nature of their motion, they would have been indistinguishable from the audience. It was clear that it was coming to an end as the all gathered in one spot and the music went silent.

[Photo by Elena Zhukova, reprinted courtesy of SOMArts.]

So the question is how how successful the piece was at allowing audience members to enter their own stories? For me, I found myself focused on the literal elements of the visual design, music and movement. Even as the piece evolved over time, I was drawn the elements as abstractions – perhaps not surprising for someone who gravitates towards abstract music and art. Particularly through the costumes and overall shapes of the installation, I could also connect to the urban landscape.

The Book continues at SOMArts with additional performances, including a free closing event on July 29 where one will be able to see how the gallery space was altered over the course of the series.

Maira Kalman, Contemporary Jewish Museum

Today we visit another local exhibition that will be closing soon, Maira Kalman: Various Illuminations (of a Crazy World) at the Contemporary Jewish Museum here in San Francisco. In addition to seeing the exhibition itself, I also attended the opening in July.

Kalman is perhaps best known for her many covers for The New Yorker magazine, as well as her illustrated blog for The New York Times. Indeed, looking at her many illustrations on paper in the exhibit, one of the first things that comes to mind is “these look like New Yorker covers”, both in the style of the illustrations and the satire of life and people in New York.

[Maira Kalman, New York, Grand Central Station, 1999, gouache and ink on paper. 15 3/8 x 22 1/4 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Julie Saul Gallery, New York.]

[Maira Kalman, Crosstown Boogie Woogie, 1995, gouache on paper, 15 3/8 x 11 1/2 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Julie Saul Gallery, New York. (Click to enlarge)]

These particular illustrations depict the life and people in New York’s transit, subways, commuter trains and such, and so have a particular resonance for me.  I did specifically recognize a few from The New Yorker, including the infamous “New Yorkistan” map, which renames various New York City neighborhoods:

[Maira Kalman, New York, Grand Central Station, 1999, gouache and ink on paper. 15 3/8 x 22 1/4 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Julie Saul Gallery, New York. (Click to enlarge)]

Many of the names in the map play on inside jokes about the stereotypical residents of boroughs or specific neighborhoods, rather than on the actual names themselves. I would have liked to see “Tribecastan”, as the name seems like it could in fact be from central Asia.

[Maira Kalman, Woman with Face Net, 2000, gouache on paper, 17 x 14 3/4 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Julie Saul Gallery, New York.]

The above work, Woman with Face Net, is the iconic work from the exhibit, and on opening night many of the female staff and volunteers at the museum wore similar hair nets as a tribute. It is interesting how the image uses the combination of red and black, which for me personally is quite powerful, especially in the context of female fashion and dress.

In addition to the works on paper for publication, the exhibition presented some of Kalman’s text and installations, which feature numerous household objects. I particularly liked the juxtaposition of this set of objects with the caption in the background. It was not clear of this combination was the work of the artist herself, or of the curators.

[Installation detail. Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco. (Click to enlarge)]

There were also some older pieces from her long career, including this “remix” of former U.S. Presidents with new hairstyles.

[Maira Kalman, Presidents, 1978, graphite, ink, correction fluid, and paper collage on vellum, taped to board. 12 5/8 x 11 5/8 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Julie Saul Gallery, New York.]

Patriotic themes, at once both genuine and satirical, were a common theme among many of her works, and is the theme of one of her blogs at The New York Times, along with the scenes of life in New York. There are also scenes of her childhood in Israel – one image of a young girl in front of a Bauhaus building Tel Aviv was perhaps my favorite in the entire exhibition. She definitely has a soft spot for dogs, especially her dog Pete, who is presented very affectionately in many of the illustrations. Others were more abstract, still life of individual objects, or figures taken out of any environmental context. I did like this page of individual sketches that reduced many of the themes to icon form. Although her drawing style is quite different, it made me think of the William Leavitt exhibit I saw earlier this year.

[Maira Kalman, Endpaper (What Pete Ate), 2001, gouache on paper. 14 7/8 x 22 1/4 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Julie Saul Gallery, New York. (Click to enlarge)]

I also had the opportunity to attend a live discussion with Maira Kalman on the night of the opening. Above all, I recall her being quite funny – not surprising given her illustrations, but she specifically had that dry sense of humor I tend to appreciate. As a blogger, I did note how she described the medium with a bit of derision, even while she had embraced it. At the same time, she displayed a very sentimental side, when talking about her dogs, and her late husband Tibor Kalman. And her recommendations on how to pack lightly for traveling were simultaneously practical and romantic – something to keep in mind for future trips abroad.

One interesting question that arose during was whether this could be considered a “Jewish exhibition”. While not originally conceived as such, it has taken on that identity in part because of the institutions where it being presented. After leaving the CJM, it be at the Skirball Center in Los Angeles, and then at the Jewish Museum in New York. There is rarely a satisfactory way to answer a question like that, whether the heritage in question is Jewish or anything else. For example, similar questions arose for Stella Zhang’s 0 Viewpoint about whether it was “Chinese art”.

Maira Kalman: Various Illuminations (of a Crazy World) will still be open at the Contemporary Jewish Museum until October 26.

Video by Anne Eastman, Maggie Foster, Guthrie Lonergan, Hayley Silverman Jancar Jones Gallery

We now turn our attention to another exhibition that is closing this week. For most of May, Jancar Jones Gallery has presented a group exhibit of videos by Anne Eastman, Maggie Foster, Guthrie Lonergan and Hayley Silverman. Each of videos explores subtle motion and illusory effects, either through the objects being filmed or through computer-based manipulation. The exhibit will remain open at the gallery through May 29.

Anne Eastman, A Record of Abstract Ideas. Image courtesy of Jancar Jones Gallery. (Click to enlarge.)

Anne Eastman. Image courtesy of Jancar Jones Gallery. (Click to enlarge.)

The work that most caught my attention was A Record of Abstract Ideas, a mesmerizing video by New-York-based artist Anne Eastman. She creates sculptures and installations that are very abstract and formal, but also play with reflection, motion and changes through the inclusion of mirrors and mobile elements. She then creates videos of the installations, which become works in their own right. The video presented here appears to include images of Eastman’s 2009 installation “Mobiles” at the ATM Gallery in New York, as seen here. Throughout the video, one sees portions of geometric shapes, circles, rectangles and grids enter and exit the video at odd angles and reflect different textures and patterns within their boundaries. At times, one sees the elements close-up and disconnected, while at other moments there is enough context to recognize a piece of a sculpture. She also plays with colors and effects of the video itself in creating a work separate from the installation being filmed. At a few times, one can see a video projector in the background, presumably projecting an earlier video of and earlier installation.

Installation view with Hayley Silverman's 1st Movement on left. Courtesy of Jancar Jones Gallery. (Click to enlarge.)

Opposite Eastman’s video, the other works were projected onto the wall as part of a single continuous loop. Hayley Silverman’s 1st Movement features images of shiny fabrics that appear to be folding and collapsing naturally, as if a sheet or a piece of clothing were dropped on a surface. However, on close viewing one can see that the images are being digitally deformed, giving the illusion of the natural behavior of fabric. You can see a video example here. The other videos in the loop explore similar themes. In “Floor Warp 2“, Guthrie Lonergan creates the illusion of continuous motion of wooden flooring (very similar to the flooring at CatSynth HQ, actually). Similarly, Maggie Foster’s Untitled (2009) manipulates images of a green lawn creating illusions of distance.

Dorian Grey's Box: Art Installation at Pajaro Valley Arts Council

My sound art installation described in previous posts is now on display at the Pajaro Valley Arts Council as part of the current exhibition “The Human Condition: The Artists’ Response.” The exhibition is “an artistic articulation of the connection between
the individual and world challenges, the exhibit
brings together artists responding to political and social tensions in today?s world”, and features 22 artists (according to my best count). The pieces in the exhibi are all of great quality when compared to recent gallery exhibits I have visited. Many are overtly political or social, dealing with many of darker subjects in current events and recent history. Some are quite realistic, others more abstract.

Dorian Grey’s Box, the piece on which I collaborated with local artist Michael Carson, is one of the more abstract in the exhibition. The main element is a large black cube with newspaper clippings in various patterns and sections of redder coloring. Surrounding the main cube are several small wooden “alphabet blocks”, some of which have also been painted black.


The sound (my contribution to the piece) is on a continuous loop that visitors can hear via headphones. The material is primarily ambient noise, gitches, percussive effects and sounds that only “hint” at speaking voices, arranged in a collage inspired by the sculptural part of the piece.

]The exhibition continues through March 4, and I strongly encourage anyone in the greater Bay Area during this time to check it out. It’s great to see such quality contemporary art locally (Santa Cruz-Watsonville-Monterey area).

I have posted an excerpt from the sound installation on the podcast for those who are interested in the piece but unable to visit in person.