Friday, March 14, 2008

Report on the "California Video" Preview Opening

Bambino and I are back in New York, having too much to do back home to enjoy L.A.'s fine weather for more than a few days. We did get to the beach for a lovely sunset and, of course, had the pleasure of catching up with Cathy at the opening of "California Video." That's Cathy to the right, doing her "I'm pretending you're not taking my picture" pose. :-)

As I don't know how to review exhibitions I only see at an opening reception (and with time-based work in particular, given my wine-induced attention deficit disorder, that would impossible for me), I'll keep my summary to some logistical observations and gossip highlights. For a more in-depth and remarkably fast review of the exhibition, check out Michael Buitron's take on Leap Into the Void.

My initial impressions of the exhibition, though, include the fact that it's beautifully designed. As we're about to install a 7-video exhibition in our space, I was particularly interested in seeing how they solved certain problems. In talking with the curator of the exhibition, Glenn Phillips (Senior Project Specialist at the Getty Research Institute [that's him above with the red tie]), I learned that they had two competing goals with the installation design: presenting each video in so that its particular characteristics were accessible and creating a flow and sequence that facilitated seeing how the works "talked" with one another. Therefore, works with narratives were presented so that the viewer could relax and hear the story, and those that are more ambient were installed to maximize that experience, all the while considering the dialog between and among the works. I was taking ample mental notes through our conversation.

To the right, soaking up the glamor and awesome spread at the reception, are Cathy, yours truly, and Cathy's delightful mom and brother. Shortly after this photo was snapped, I talked briefly with the wonderfully relaxed and pleasant Getty Director, Michael Brand, who told me that, given the nature of much of the work, it was important to the museum that they not over-produce the exhibition. He explained that this was something that can happen quite easily at an institution with as much funding as the Getty. I long for the day when I have to worry about that myself.

Among the other impressive decisions they've made for the exhibition is a bank of kiosks at which you can watch any of the videos in the exhibition. Complete with helpful categorizations and artist's bios, this research tool was incredibly well done. In fact, in his introduction to the massive and gorgeous catalog, Glenn Phillips explains the the exhibition is "envisioned as a reference tool." One of the other cool factors about the kiosks is that they're equipped to let you listen with your own head-set, limiting the odds you'll catch something nasty from a previous visitor (although, I have to admit, that as nice as this feature is, the number of Californians concerned about this was surprising to this New Yorker who can't imagine the germs on a headset come close to approaching those on the poles I touch daily on the subway).

Speaking of Californians, though, Bambino (that's him enjoying a snack and the breathtaking view from the Getty's plaza [you can't quite see it in this photo, I'm afraid]) and I met Michael and Angela, the two lovely owners of Wilshire Boulevard's SolwayJones Gallery, whose artist Jim Campbell had an awesome installation in the exhibition. They were incredibly nice to us and helped make our visit all the more enjoyable. Thanks guys!

UPDATE: You can see excerpts from many of the videos in the exhibition, including Cathy's, at this wonderful online resource the Getty's organized.

Labels: gallery artists' exhibitions


Blogger Catherine Spaeth said...

What a Shangrila! I had a research grant there not too long ago, so spent many weeks showing up to work in monastic silence on that hill. The place is soaking in some special kind of air, a real ivory tower for scholarship, it's so nice to see them break past their stodgy collection and do something really strong in the contemporary field. For one of your artists to be a part of that is really quite something - it's a very big deal.

3/15/2008 01:58:00 PM  
Blogger the reader said...

I really like the idea of an exhibition of video art that is "envisioned as a reference tool." From the show-reel that you posted the other day this seems to gel with the way that a number of artist's in the exhibition work with video as a medium.

I've always been drawn to the idea of video as a kind of writing, (at times freeform and diaristic at times more structured). I think an exhibition that allows us to access video in a way that is closer to how we access text (i.e. opening the book or document to the page/paragraph/word we want to read from) opens up a whole other dimension of viewer engagement with video work. In a way this kind of presentation does facilitate a more scholarly engagement with the work through this idea of being able to read and reread, (or view and review) certain key sections.

I think this sort of presentation also helps to balance the overly dominant video-as-painting theme that we run across in work like Bill Viola's Passions series. it does this by helping us to understand what we exclude by putting a frame around the screen.

3/15/2008 08:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Dan cooney said...

Hi Edward,

I know this is off the subject of this post but I'm not sure how to contact you direct.So, feel free not to approve it for this particular post. I notice your Obama logo and I have to wonder what your thoughts are on all of his connections with the religious homo haters. It makes me gag personally. Civil rights? No for everyone obviously. What do you think?

Dan Cooney

3/15/2008 09:50:00 PM  
Blogger Bryan said...

A well-written post. Agree with you. I didn't know that attention deficit disorder can be cured untill i came across It took me quite some time, but I've finally overcomed it.

3/16/2008 10:31:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

winkleman has arrived with a mention in the society page of

Are you advertising in AF or what?

JP Morgan chase just enfolded bear sterns in its umbrella at 2$ a share, or roughtly double the market value of bear's flagship store on madison ave give or take fifty million. take probably.

SO whats up with video art? Did you have to get in on betamax? I read Slavoj Zizek is shilling for criterion collection stuff - good taste I must say.

3/17/2008 02:08:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Are you advertising in AF or what?

Not recently. In fact, they snapped our picture, but that didn't make the report. I do have to say that the notion that a party should end promptly is entirely foreign to me.

3/17/2008 08:52:00 AM  

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