By N. LINNERT
Posted: April 6, 2011
The Journal Gallery opened its latest exhibition of work by Rita Ackermann on Tuesday evening to a crowd of curious individuals. Entitled "Warfilms," the showcase bypassed any explanatory promotional material leading up to the opening of what is essentially the artist’s first exhibition using solely video. The North 1st St. space will be showing Ackermann’s three films for five days.
Encountering the installation, one must immediately come to terms with the fact that the viewer’s experience will never comprehend in entirety the specific moving images being projected on the walls, let alone their accompanying soundtracks. The three white walls of The Journal Gallery receive different film projections, each of which document an experience (presumably Ackermann’s) of intense video viewing and manipulation from a computer screen. The subjects presented range from speeches by Muammar Gaddafi and hazy helicopter footage, to Paul Virilio asserting Fascism is a result of “masked Futurism,” to various dance sequences including promotional video for Michael Jackson’s HIStory album, a highly choreographed Easter Sunday flashmob at Budapest’s Heroes’ Square, and Rebecca Black’s “Friday” music video. All of the accompanying sound is played simultaneously, and because each film is of different length, an audiovisual cacophony is produced that will never be heard repeated.
Standing in the center of The Journal’s space, the viewer must constantly make turns and dart his or her vision from one visual to another to gather information. This is not unlike the contemporary mode of news consumption, in which the television audience splits the focus between video and texual feeds crawling across various parts of the screen, or for a computer user switching through different windows and links, texts and video. The themes explored in Ackermann’s video choices address notions of politics and cultural tradition, temporality and orchestration. In numerous instances, the cursor is seen rewinding the videos and making them play forwards and back. The software interface (Mac OS X) is revealed throughout. While this saturation of moving image and accompanying video is indeed a violent, intentionally fragmented experience to endure, it is not without cohesion. Ackermann’s three presentations are related in such that when moving one’s attention from wall to wall, the viewer is asked to reconsider the presented images in ways that recast their seemingly disparate nature as in fact, interconnected.
For one who has ever sensed that the flux of information flow has far passed an individual’s ability to consume such, Rita Ackermann’s show at The Journal Gallery will recreate this feeling within the gallery space. Warfilms will run (unrepeated) through April 10.