Monday, February 12, 2007

New Frontier, Cory Oberndorfer

While in Park City, Utah for the Sundance Film Festival, I had the opportunity to witness the inauguration of the New Frontier on Main program. New Frontier is a platform for artists who are using the moving image to explore new concepts of narrative structure.

The program featured the work of nine artists, all working in some way with moving images. The first piece I came across was 1st LIGHT by Paul Chan. This single-channel installation presented imagery on the floor as a light shining through an open window. Within the space of the light there remains the constant silhouette of power lines joined by a variety of objects floating skyward, defying the basic sensation of gravity. I had previously had the opportunity to see 1st LIGHT at the Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia, making this my first experience viewing the same work in two different installation spaces. The Fabric Workshop installation never seemed to break the parameters of the gallery space. The projection seemed to exist despite the surrounding area. The installation at the New Frontier utilized the space in a much more effective manner. With lower ceilings missing acoustic panels, the work became much more intimate. Crawling along the ceiling space was a series of electrical wiring that mimicked the wires included in the projection. Whether intentional or not, the effect seemed much more complete.

Playing in a makeshift theater was the video Academy by R. Luke DuBois. Using technology, DuBois condensed the every film to win the Oscar for Best Picture into one-minute segments. All 75 were played back to back. The compression allowed for each film to be played in an intelligible way so that the intentions of the films held strong. The viewing became a summarized version of the history of film. While storylines could be followed, the artistry and intention of the original film was soon lost. One film soon seemed to run into the next and these prestigious works of art became nothing more than a remake of the previous movie. Those familiar with the films were treated to the stimulation of nostalgic memories while those unfamiliar were merely presented with a jumble of truncated imagery.

Copenhagen Cycles is a multimedia installation by animator Eric Dyer. Dyer began by creating a series of zoetropes. The collaged imagery follows the adventures of a bicyclist in Denmark’s capital city. These zoetropes were spun in front cameras to create moving images that were projected onto a series of screens. Copenhagen Cycles became a beautiful blend of outdated conventions and modern technology. Zoetropes were used in a pre-cinema era as a way of manipulating the persistence of vision to create moving imagery. Dyer then collected these moving images through the most up-to-date high-definition digital technology. Copenhagen Cycles also becomes a play on words as “cycles” means both the series of stories told and the bicycles used to transport the story from one scene to the next. Without the use of computer effects, the method of animation became a beautifully unique kaleidoscope of imagery.

In Lincoln Schatz’s Cluster, a stable camera collects and remembers images and then presents them in an ever-changes collage of moments that becomes richer as the day goes on. Images are overlaid at random and present the history of the space and social interactions. The software created to remix the captured moments offers a unique experience that is never repeated. The piece worked both as a product presented to the viewer and a forum for those who have interacted with the space.

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