Olivia Robinson, Inside & Out (detail)
Shake the hand-sized, high-tech version of a Magic Eight Ball — which shows a little video in the place of your fortune and is encased in a friendly crocheted sock — and the image breaks apart, then begins anew. Or turn a super-sized phenakistoscope (an early animation device, predecessor to the zoetrope) to bring to life a sequence of stills and lighting effects. Human-powered work meets hi-tech with nostalgic, even arcane results in “Picture Show,” which opens at the Photographic Resource Center on March 30, as a forerunner of the Boston Cyberarts Festival (April 20–May 6).
PRC curator Leslie K. Brown describes the art in “Picture Show” as existing somewhere in among sculpture, photography, new media, and installation, citing Muybridge and Edgerton and Duchamp. Steve Hollinger, Olivia Robinson, Erica von Schilgen, Deb Todd Wheeler, and Hans Spinnermen are as much magicians and vaudevilleans as they are multi-media artists, creating work that may be antique in appearance but combines old-fashioned and cutting-edge technologies. And though the prototypes for their art might be found in the history of optics and cinema, our interest in it is triggered by contemporary concerns — energy sustainability, altered narratives — and by our simple, age-old wonder at images in motion.
Public transportation can also be seen to exist at some nexus of past and future — a kind of lurching old system that may hold the key to what’s to come. Public space, urban life, and the connections we make are all influenced by the path cut by the MBTA, and “The Green Line,” opening at Brickbottom Gallery March 30, features artists’ response to the planned expansion of the Green Line past Lechmere into the Brickbottom District and out to Tufts. Mounted in collaboration with the Nave Gallery (which presents a companion show next month), and timed to coincide with Somerville Open Studios (May 5-6), the show presents work by, among others, Lisa Lunskaya Gordon, Pier Gustafson, Cyn Maurice, and Jessica Straus.
As he reported in his Village Voice column last September 28, punchy art critic Jerry Saltz visited Robert Smithson’s seminal Spiral Jetty outside Salt Lake City for the first time last fall and was, in his words, ashamed to experience “a romantic gush” in response. Saltz’s epiphany in Utah serves as a jumping-off point for what promises to be a lively discussion with artist Matthew Ritchie, who also looks to Smithson as an important influence. “Out There: Matthew Ritchie and Jerry Saltz in Conversation” takes place March 28 at 6:30 pm at BU; it’s free.
“Picture Show” at Photographic Resource Center, 832 Comm Ave, Boston | March 30–May 6 | 617.975.0600 | “The Green Line” at Brickbottom Gallery, 1 Fitchburg St, Somerville | March 30–May 6 | 617.776.3410 | “Out There: Mathew Ritchie and Jerry Saltz in Conversation” at Boston University School of Management Auditorium, 595 Comm Ave, Boston | March 28 at 6:30 pm | free | 617.353.3371
On the Web
Photographic Resource Center: www.prcboston.org
Brickbottom Gallery: www.brickbottomartists.com
Boston University School of Management Auditorium: www.bu.edu/cfa