Digitalforum: Video Masters: Classics From the '70s
With stray street noise muffling soundtracks and ambient light dimming images, DigitalForum’s outdoor presentation of classic video art by California-based artists isn’t ideal, but so what? Few video art screenings are. With a large screen suspended over the Crate & Barrel store and plenty of outdoor seating, the One Colorado Courtyard venue offers casual, communal viewing and a quick introduction to the obsessions of ’70s artists. Bill Viola’s lovely The Reflecting Pool (1977–80) shows a pool of water in an idyllic, tree-rimmed setting, with sunlight dancing through the leaves; reflections in the water indicate the passage of time, but the world outside the pool seems tied to a different temporal realm. Viola plays with motion and stasis, time and its suspension, gracefully manipulating the image to show us the possibility of multiple temporal states. John Baldessari is also represented with his amusing — and boring — I Will Not Make Any More Boring Art (1971), in which the artist dutifully scrawls the title again and again on a piece of paper, manifesting exactly what he promises to avoid. Despite the repetition, the piece remains eminently watchable for its 13 minutes if only because you can’t believe that he’ll keep going. Chris Burden’s Bed Piece (1972) is a three-minute record of the artist’s performance work of the same title, for which Burden stayed in a bed for 22 days, hardly eating or moving. The resulting video is mysterious, with Burden almost appearing to be dead. The heavier videos are tempered by several hilarious works by William Wegman, the best being his classic Spelling Lesson, in which Wegman’s clever Weimaraner, Man Ray, ponders the vexing problem of homonyms. Time, repetition and the very idea of art are topics that may not translate perfectly here, but every evening for several hours, video art goes public, which is a very good thing. (One Colorado Courtyard, Pasadena; nightly, 6-10 p.m.; thru June 25. 626-564-1066 or www.armoryarts.org/gallery/gallery.html)
Get the Film Club Newsletter
Stay up to date on the best new movies with our critics' latest reviews, interviews and trailers for the films coming to a theater near you each week.