Knots of people loitered on the street like teenagers as the sun started to have some real meaning. It was an afternoon to saunter.
The work on display at Trinity Square Video, called The Cloud of Unknowing, by Ho Tzu Neyen, put me off lunch. The camera lingered over plates of rotting food and maggots, appalling skin diseases, obese half naked people, fetid water and a heavy set man wearing a Depend.
Still from The Cloud of Unknowing by Ho Tzu Neyen
The soundtrack could be described as ambient metal or dark ambient with an overlay of heavy breathing and occasional bursts of quite good drumming. There is no dialogue. A collection of vaguely surrealistic and improbable tableau vivant were linked with a cloud/steam/fog image. At the conclusion of the presentation a fan switches on somewhere and a steamy vaporous cloud wafts into the dark viewing room as the screen fades to a blinding white. It’s disorienting.
Showing video in art galleries has always been challenging. On this Saturday afternoon I became aware of an apparent new trend in the medium: a material manifestation (literal fog or cloud in this case) of the onscreen work.
(Fog was one of the key components of a memorable art piece I saw in London by Olaf Elliason called The Weather Project. In that case viewers in the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall became so spaced out they lay on the floor, staring up at the fog shrouding a dim sun in the mirrored ceiling far above. The fog created a dreamlike atmosphere and seemed to release all kinds of inhibitions. )
The Weather Project by Olaf Elliason
Ten minutes away from Trinity Square Video, at the Georgia Scherman Project, there is an anything goes atmosphere as an art installation/perfume launch is underway. The space is very dark and very fragrant. A short black and white video loop is playing is which a model clomps up a circular stairway in what appears to be a dank cave or grotto of some sort. The soundtrack is ambient metal. No dialogue. The floor is littered with black confetti which has been heavily doused in the fragrance. The artist wants to create a particular atmosphere. At the counter – I mean desk – sachets of Andrea Maack’s upcoming fragrance “Dual” are handed out.
The gallery staff mentioned the plan for the video to go viral. You never know what’s going to catch on. More than 40 million people have watched: Double Rainbow.
Samples of the fragrance “Dual” by Andrea Maacke
The idea for the black confetti underfoot – more material manifestation – is that the public will inadvertently track it out into the neighbourhood and disperse the olfactory offering up and down Techumsah Street and beyond.
Next door at Susan Hobbs I thought I was in more conventional terrain. Big, beautiful framed art pieces hung on the walls. But at the moment of entering the gallery a soundtrack is triggered: swelling violins and “This Magic Moment’ by the Drifters spills into the space.
In the exhibition, titled Matters of Fact, Krista Buecking creates equisitely subdued atmospheric fades and then suspends hard edged graphics above them on the encasing glass.
For me, although the music was an endearing touch, the art pieces could totally stand alone. It did strike as me as amusing that whereas the media artists want some ambient element scattered about the painter selects an old school emotional torch song to create an atmosphere.
codified form B by Krista Buecking
Mist, fog, dreaminess, atmosphere. Those seems to be the themes for this beautiful sunny afternoon.