I had the spare time to make it down to the Corcoran this evening for the third installation of the new and experimental media series juried by Paul Roth and Peggy Parsons this evening, and I am rather thankful I did. Granted, few if any of the pieces chosen really challenged new and experimental media that had not already been laid in the foundations we can collectively call the 1960s, but this does not mean the vivid and sometimes wonderful abstractions of film were not worth watching. Quite the contrary: I enjoyed nearly all the videos. Granted, I have a new-found fear of pigeons, and a pang of curiosity why Gene Kelly was juxtaposed with Bobby Kennedy, but if you weren’t there, I’m not going to go into detail.
There were two flaws with the production of the evening. The first was the obvious problem of failing media. Two discs failed, which, while shortening the length of the evening by 20 minutes was acceptable, watching the struggle was not. Compounded by the stop, play and reading of discs, it should be ne3cessary for the WPA/Corcoran to realize that they need to consolidate all media onto one disc, submission into the exhibition is consent by the artist for this to occur. Since this is series is in its beginnings, this flaw is quite forgivable. Five years from now, people might still overlook it, but only with chagrin.
Flaw two has a relationship to a Frank Lloyd Wright criticism of architecture of the early industrial age recapitulating architecture of antiquity and the ancients. Consider: if film is an extension of theatre, erecting the fourth wall to distance the actor from the audience, why are we exposed only to movies in an experimental media series. There was little experimental with tonight’s work. Overlapped film/video goes back to (S) Einstein… maybe further. The combination of live music and video in psychedelic tones (even if it is T2 and Total Recall mashed and symmetrical) invokes The Velvet Underground at the Factory. Meditations on film projectors, dancing Egyptian girls at a wedding, or Monarch butterflies migrating, even with funky Final Cut and After Effects tweaks, does not inspire anything more than a film of a man sleeping or of clouds passing the Empire State Building. Pigeons in slow motion… hi, Bill Viola! I take nothing away from the artists on exhibit this evening, but I want to punctuate one thing: there was nothing experimental… except maybe to the artists… and some of the people watching. If I throw paint on the canvas I am experimenting. But Pollock has already done it, and hundreds of thousands of others since.
I also object to the label of new media for this series. Media represents the display of several medium(s). This was new video, and only new in the same sense that Déjà Vu or Deck the Halls is new, and even then only kinda. Let’s be willing to call a spade a spade.