Members Opening Thursday, October 8, 5 - 7 pm
Public Opening Friday, October 9, 5 - 7 pm
Since the wide acceptance of video as an artistic medium in the 1990s, artists have put it to many uses including videos that resemble abstract paintings, videos that form parts of sculptures, videos that tell stories, and videos that are largely still images. One of the strongest recurring qualities in video art is a focus on the isolation and expansion of various forms of human communication.
Talking Pictures examines this quality, intrinsic to a medium that unfolds over time in images and sound. For example, the artists Diller + Scofidio, in their large projection Soft Sell from 1993, isolate red lips enticing the viewer with questions such as “Hey you, wanna buy something for nothing?” and “Hey you, wanna buy some motherly love?” Projected on a grand scale, this desirous mouth communicates with riveting efficacy, inducing wants in us we didn’t know we had.
Bruce Nauman’s 1996 work, World Peace, comprises five separate projections, each featuring one person who speaks. “I’ll talk to you. You’ll listen to me,” says one. “They’ll talk to me. I’ll listen to them,” says another, and so on. These are basic statements, with their subjects and objects reversed, underscoring the reciprocity that is key to successful communication. Yet, in Nauman’s work, they pile up on top of one another, preventing us from understanding anyone very clearly. The density of the layers of voices is disquieting and discomforting. Redundancy deftly undercuts the reciprocal intention of the spoken words.
Javier Téllez presents the experience of blindness with poetry and empathy. In his 2007 black and white video titled Letter on the Blind for the Use of Those Who See, six blind people approach and touch an elephant one by one, some with obvious fear and others with full-bodied embrace. Each describes what they sense, revealing individual experiences of blindness. Ultimately, we come to understand, through their words and the artist’s images, something previously unknowable to the sighted.
Christian Marclay’s video from 1995, Telephones, is made from hundreds of short film clips of people answering the telephone, responding to what they hear, hanging up, and digesting what they have heard. Marclay isolates the experience of a particular kind of hearing. Like blindness in Téllez’s video, hearing and speech seem unlikely subjects for visual art, and for video in particular, but are richly magnified by their presentation in this form.
Talking Pictures exhibits works in which various qualities central to human understanding are questioned, intensified, and radically opened up for viewers, allowing us to come away from the experience of with our own concepts of communication unsettled, yet enriched.
Artists in the exhibition include: Stephen Dean, Diller + Scofidio, James Drake, Kota Ezawa, Christian Marclay, Bruce Nauman, Nadine Robinson, and Javier Téllez.
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