Friday, April 14, 2006

Between You & I

In spite of the ubiquity of film in today’s contemporary art scene, or perhaps because of it, there is little discussion of the formal properties of the medium these days. Film or more likely video is usually taken for granted and the medium made to disappear. All the more important, then, to see work from an earlier generation of Structuralist filmmakers. Anthony McCall found fame in the 70s with his Line Describing a Cone, and now Peer have put on a large installation in the Round Chapel in Clapton (the area is known locally as “murder mile”) of a new piece called Between You and I.

The large interior of the chapel is blacked out and filled with theatrical smoke, really filled. From way up high above two video projectors beam white light down to the floor, describing slowly morphing line drawings that mix up elements of circles, ovals, straight lines and segmented curves. These follow some sort of cinematic logic over the course of a 32-minute loop, but to be honest it’s hard to make much sense out of it. The point seems to be to look up at the beams of light cutting through the smoke, which form solid but moving walls, intersect and enclose the viewer as you stumble about in the dark below. Don't be fooled by the image above, the reality is a lot less bright and vivid.

It would be easy to dismiss it as being very Jean Michel Jarre, very Orbital and generally very 70s in a “cool man” kind of way. The effect is so familiar from laser shows and nightclubs. It’s only the slowness and the monochrome palette that mark it out as Serious Art, and the fact that Peer have organised the installation. There is also a bit of an issue in that this is clearly video projection, and yet the aesthetics are tied in very closely to the world of film and celluloid. McCall really doesn’t take full advantage of the possibilities of contemporary digital animation. It’s an interesting experience to have, standing looking up at these huge white cones of light, but it means nothing and hardly transcends a verbal description of the process, which is a shame.

Click for Peer website


Anonymous canvas art said...

Reminds me of a nightclub too

3:20 pm  

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