Leslie Thornton Review in Today's New York Times
Oh, and if you read it in the print version, there is this humongous photo of Leslie's "Parrot" piece...just humongous!
Art in Review
LESLIE THORNTON: ‘Binocular’
By ROBERTA SMITH
Published: January 27, 2011
621 West 27th Street, Chelsea
Through Feb. 5
I’m not sure if Leslie Thornton’s digital flat-screen diptyches completely qualify as art. But perhaps it’s not necessary. Ms. Thornton, an experimental filmmaker best known for her “Peggy and Fred in Hell” films, is having her first gallery solo; the pieces shown here — which she calls Binoculars — amount to amazing little revelations orchestrated at the intersection of art, science, nature and technology. Whatever you call them, they will stop you in your tracks.
The main ingredients are Ms. Thornton’s films of different creatures: brief, mostly close-up views of a black parrot, some zebras, a python, an orangutan, the eye of a Gabon viper and a swarm of ants. Each film is projected on a pair of small circular screens; hence the binoculars. On the left, we see the creatures as the camera originally saw them. On the right, the same sequence is digitally refracted as through a prism, splintered into a breathtakingly gorgeous abstract pattern that evokes a superfine kaleidoscope or rose window. And this pattern constantly moves — not because you shake it as you would an old-style kaleidoscope, but because the subject moves. It slithers, blinks, kicks up its heel, breathes. The slightest change reverberates visually through the abstract patterns.
It is sort of a gimmick and sort of not. The transformation, while purely technical, creates the illusion of seeing through to some underlying layer of natural beauty and order. Nature is devoid of ugliness, these works seem to say. As if to prove the point, the final work here is a film of a dead baby bird whose head is teeming with maggots, presented on its own, straight up, without the benefit of the digital prism.
I'll seek clarification with Roberta some other day on which definition of art she uses (mine is a mix between Johns' Take something, do something to it, then do something else to it....and Rauschenberg's This is a portrait of Iris Clert if I say so....but I realize other people have other working definitions.) As for today, any review that describes the work in the show as "amazing...breathtakingly gorgeous...will stop you in your tracks" is a keeper!