Channel surfing

By GREG COOK  |  November 17, 2009


McDonald found ways to mix gags with formal experimentation. Dying Swan (1975) shows her slipping and sliding while attempting to dance ballet on a frozen lake. In Russian Dance (1978), wild camera moves make a ballerina’s feet seem to dance.

Early ’90s footage by Emergency Broadcast Network, another RISD student project, is an unsettling carnival mirror mix of television news — presidential debates, explosions, police raids — and commercials.

All the above was the cutting edge of video art at the time, though in retrospect much of it seems like throwaway test runs. Recent works like Palombo’s The Purple Pill (2006-09), a dancing collage of television commercials, show that kinetic layering and our ever-growing torrent of video imagery remain a focus for many in the gang. Unaffiliated artists included here produce recent work of varying degrees of interest and schlock. The best is Patrick Bergeron’s Loop Loop, a condensed glimpse of a train trip combined with formal devices that make the screen seem to spin.

STRIKING IMAGERY Gandrund’s Transmission.

At AS220’s Project Space (93 Mathewson Street, through November 28), Julia Gandrund of Cranston exhibits recent hand-drawn animation and book projects in “Screening My Thoughts.” In Safe Painting Dream, a woman leaps off the top of a building after a canvas that has fallen over the edge while another woman rappels down the building’s side, peer-ing into windows at a cat, a pregnant woman floating through the air, and girls who mutate into a carrot and a frog. In Transmission, a cluster of eyeballs morphs into some sort of cat, which becomes a rock thrown through a crowd of shadow people. It ends with a man bending over to pick up the fallen stone. Gandrund seems to still be figuring out what her subject is, but she creates striking imagery by using the camera’s point-of-view to make it seem as if we are diving off the top of a building or climbing down its side.

Also on view is “Isolated Fictions,” art from Chicago organized by Caroline Picard of Chicago’s Green Lantern Press and Gallery. (Disclosure: I showed my work at her gallery last year.) The art is centered on Green Lantern’s republication of a curious and extraordinary newspaper produced by crews of two explorer ships to pass the time when they were stuck in arctic ice in 1819. The art — ranging from Rebecca Grady’s diaristic-type doodles of icebergs, ships, and whales to Jason Dunda’s The Tower, a precise gouache of an odd rickety stairway to a pulpit — feels more cute than substantial. What the project recognizes and what sticks in your head is how in our era of global warming, war, and recession, the arc-tic has become a locus of our dreams and anxieties.
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