Visual art news, views & reviews in Dallas, Texas, USA
2. The 2005 Texas Biennial:
High + Low Tech Art
Story + Photographs by J R Compton
with details by Anna Palmer
Some pieces in this Texas Biennial needed to wind around my mind awhile before I could say anything coherent.
I also had to confer with Anna, who remembers different things, like which “clock” ticked and which one's hands sweeps silently. When I asked, she responded poetically, “The spiral swept, the circle ticked.”
I don't take notes when I look at art, I take photographs. These are my memories of those static events. But not everything shows up in them. Like brain memory they are an imperfect medium.
I was surprised when I realized — after we got back to Dallas — that both the multi-handed “clocks” and the dual strange, randomizing disk video projection machines in the darkened room at Bolm Studios were by the same artist.
I'd felt comfortable with those things soon as I saw them, although to many they might seem off the bleeding leading — or trailing — edge.
They were beautiful to watch and to think about then and since. Their subtle simplicity stays with me, their many hands serenely sweeping and ticking through my daydreams still.
Like an overhead projector reflecting video images onto a wall screen behind me as I stood staring into the twin lights over the heavy dark metal, cubical machines, each with a perforated disk slowly circling, stopping, the cam turning it, winding back to gyre again, stop, then slowly revolve some more.
Video light from the box projects up in dual, randomly diffracted streams, then mirror back to a video screen pebbled with chaotic overlayed dots of instant and time-delayed patterns.
Simultaneously subtle and overt, clunky, svelte and sly. I liked dancing and waving my arms in the projected path and seeing my motion echo ragged slow on the screen. If you don't get physically involved with sculpture, you miss half the fun.
This is the piece we kept seeing in Austin media, which because of their large deaf community, may better understand two floating TV monitors hand-signing in a simple visual, electronic metaphor. Less coherent is the laugh track, although maybe it made sense if we knew sign.
Watching all this non-interacting, canned communication-like activity in the name of art reminded me of a gift T-shirt from a friend. The images were fingers signing. I didn't know what it said, so I asked my brother who signs full-time, and he couldn't tell either. When I asked the giver, she told me it said “The ability to communicate is everything.”
First, my apologies to Pear Duggins, whose large, serene paintings of gunmetal gray aircraft were dead-straight-on precision colored, toned, everything clear, sharp, perfect. Maybe a little too perfect, but the light in Bolm Studios was a few pitches above darkness, so I had to increase my camera's exposure to hand hold this shot, which is less than original quality.
First time I saw these precision over flights of blimps and aircraft I disapproved all that fabricated lock-step exactitude. Sneaking in under that disapproval, however, is a certain appreciation. A kind of awe for the enemy, even if it's always going in the other direction.
Like any boychild in America, I have a fine honed appreciation of weaponry, especially of the outer space variety, like this fanciful machine — the more add-ons and exposed shiny chrome, pumps and powerful looking springy-things, the better. Making it art doesn't make it any less fun.
All clunked together in extended arms, this childishly colorful object bespeaks power while toying with our understandings of violence. Despite my aversion, or maybe because of it, I especially love guns that don't shoot.
Another sort of tech here. Linear calligraphic extrapolation.
Techie though I am, I had no idea what was going on in this picture when I snapped it. It spoke to me of some odd grayscale spectrum of text and type and meaning. Now I am reading the elements of a simple statement of the title, vivid sweeping black and pencilly grays, on searing crimson.
Another bad photographic experience confounds the image with which I was taken. Large bright windows opposite in the Eastside Coop and dark unfocused people shapes in the gallery beyond ganged up in the shiny glass, so I shot it at an angle then straightened it, losing some of Ferebee's sharpness.
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