Visitors to downtown Clinton and the Hunterdon Art Museum are familiar with the nearby truss bridge which has spanned the south branch of the Raritan River for the past 143 years.
But now they’ll be able to see the Lowthorp Truss Bridge inside the Museum and from the unique perspective of video artist Noah Klersfeld. Klersfeld has a talent for shooting images of familiar sites and, by compressing time and space, altering the familiar into something quite different. His work will be displayed in a solo exhibition at the Hunterdon Art Museum beginning Sunday, May 19.
To film the bridge, Klersfeld angled his camera down and shot the corrugated steel at deck level in a way that enabled cars to flow between the camera and the deck.
“You’re seeing cars between me and the bridge,” Klersfeld said. “My technique is to utilize every single shape as its own video layer so I draw out and separate every single shape.”
Klersfeld painstakingly cut apart and played with the timing of the footage he shot at the bridge. “I’m shooting one static image – the bridge – and subdividing all the pieces and shattering it temporally,” Klersfeld said. “I don’t fabricate anything. If the image doesn’t move, it looks the same, and if it does move it reorganizes itself. On the bridge you end up seeing random swatches of colors which are the doors of the cars passing by.”
Klersfeld’s interest in video art began as an offshoot of his career as an architect. The artist attended the Rhode Island School of Design, where students are encouraged to combine architecture with media classes. After graduating, Klersfeld found what he describes as a “standard corporate architecture job that I didn’t like very much.” He left that position and later became an associate partner at Manhattan-based Guy Nordenson and Associates Structural Engineers, but continued taking side art projects to stretch his imagination.
“I picked up video as a way to continue to think about architecture,” he said. “I started shooting some videos that dealt with space a bit, and thinking about multiple cameras and synchronization. I started writing multiple screen pieces that would synchronize with one another, and that started to feel like I was getting back into planning again, which is architectural. An architectural building also tells its own story: It has a narrative, but it’s also material and spatial and temporal.”
The flurry of inspiration to squeeze time into space in a video image began for Klersfeld one snowy afternoon. He was staring out his studio window at a brick wall – what he terms the “classic New York City view” – during a torrential snowstorm, watching how the snowflakes’ motion affected the view of the pattern of the bricks on the building.
“It was the first time I really saw motion and geometry on top of one another,” Klersfeld said. He filmed the image and subdivided it brick by brick and then shifted the timing. The end result is a brick wall that doesn’t appear different, but the snow is moving in different directions on every brick.
The process altered how Klersfeld measured and saw motion. While shooting this video, he began seeing the bricks as a quarter of a second or how much time it would take for a person or image to pass by those bricks. “It’s as though I’m trying to turn space into time.”
Viewers can also see how patterns will affect a video in another piece in the exhibition titled “LSC.” For this video, Klersfeld filmed pedestrians and cars from the opposite side of a chain-link fence near the World Trade Center memorial site. By compressing time and space, the viewer sees a colorful rhythm of images through the fence links.
The Museum exhibition, “In Motion: Videos by Noah Klersfeld,” will also feature two videos from his “Passive-Aggressive Series.” Klersfeld shot random footage of activity on a busy Manhattan street or a subway car and afterwards added voice-over directions to the people in the videos. His entertaining commands make it appear as though he’s directing a double-decker tour bus, pedestrians waving at his camera and whatever else passes by either of the three cameras he has focused on the intersection.
With this exhibition, three video projectors will be placed on low pedestals to encourage Museum visitors to pass in front of the screen and become a part of the action.