Monday, May 4, 2015

Part 2 of "Watch This!"

Where: American Art Museum

When: through September 7, 2015

It used to be the Hirshhorn had a monopoly on art videos, but the Smithsonian's American Art Museum has now stepped into this arena with a continuous show called "Watch This!"

The first offering was four different videos - quite manageable for a lunch time excursion.  This edition, however, was many videos - so many I lost count, and if you were going to watch them all from beginning to end, you'd need about half a day.  Many of them were on televisions set up quite close to each other, so you felt bombarded by sound.  Amidst the cacophony, it was well nigh impossible for me to hear anything clearly, so I skimmed through this section, wondering if that was the point: that modern society has become so noisy that you can't make out anything.

Nam June Paik was well represented, so if you like his work, run right over to this exhibit.  I admit I can't quite make up my mind about him.  Part of me likes his work, but part of me just...doesn't.

What I did enjoy was "Painted Projections" by Buky Schwartz.  It's painting on a wall and floor which doesn't look like much when you walk by, but is projected on a screen nearby and looks like a 3-D box.  When you walk past, you are "in" the box - it's pretty cool, but is hard to describe.  The interaction continues with "Text Rain" - letters fall on a screen, and when you walk by, they appear to fall on your head.  As long as you stand in one place, the letters pile up - again cooler that it sounds.

Verdict: All in all, interesting - not everything works, but it's worth a walk through.

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