MARCH 7, 2007
All Things Said, In Motion @ Randall Scott Gallery
by Heather Goss
is colorful, awkward, and sometimes, kind of hilarious.
At least, at the Randall Scott Gallery it is. The
theme is captured well here, and not just because
it's kind of an easy one to grasp. This group show
features media across the board — photographs,
video, even kinetic sculpture — and
though some works seem to be overshadowed by one piece
in particular, solely for its "awesomeness" factor, the
show as a whole is generally a strong one.
The gallery, it should be noted, is a new arrival to the 14th Street corridor. The epoynomous Randall Scott arrived in town by way of L.A., determined to bring some internationally-flavored art into the nation's capital and greet local folks with his open door "it's always happy hour" policy. Ring the bell next to Thaitanic to visit the upstairs gallery next time you're in the neighborhood; maybe you'll get a free beer out of it.
If you do so before March 17, you'll first encounter Ryan Wolfe's Sketch of a Field of Grass. Comprised of individual boxes, each with their own mini circuit board, switches, and long blade of "grass," it hangs in a wave formation along the wall. The circuit boards are wired to a motherboard on the ground, directing each as if it were the leisurely wind over the rolling fields. Wolfe tries to grasp the fleeting physical memory with digital hands, and does so inadequately — which, to be fair, is somewhat of a relief. As much as we rely on technology these days — and the geek in you will be tempted to grab the dangling circuit boards and dissect them to see how he made such a neat gadget — we may not find its role replacing our purely human functions all that desireable or impressive. The blades that got stuck in the switches, the unsightly wires, reminds you that your memory, albeit fading, will always be better than a recreation.
Rob Carter and Silas Barrett add some faltering notes to the exhibit. Carter's Cibacrome photographs (pictured above) are a vivid, appealing display of color, but the technique is a bit weak — simply taking a long exposure as he panned across sunsets. Beautiful? Absolutely. Interesting? Well, no. Barrett, on the other hand, is Carter's mirror. He video records mundane movements (the anti-blazing-sunsets), such as rising steam from the street or slowly undulating waves, then sets three displays together and runs them on different channels. As the recordings play against each other, they seem almost to interact. Here, the idea is sound, highlighting the otherwise unnoticable ... but the execution is unfortunate. The small dvd players and the mesmerizing banality can't seem to suceed in its mission in the bright gallery next to the fantastic colors and attention-grabbing technological displays.
The show stealer is Dane Picard's The Hands Mosaic Project, three rotating videos that display moving "animals" as a composite of photographs of human hands. Motion is two-fold here; a cheetah runs rapidly across the screen as thousands of photos flip in and out, imitating the animals' muscular movement. It is, in proper art terminology, kind of awesome. But it's also clever, and succeeds where Wolfe's grass sculpture fails — it manages to imitate nature, but with a knowing wink at how such an imitation will, and perhaps should always be imperfect. Where Wolfe tries a bit too hard, Picard embraces the flaws with humor.
The duo of Angela Detanico and Rafael Lain round out the exhibit with two video pieces that seem, on par, the most mature works in the group. The Waves (pictured left) is a look at the Virginia Woolf novel of the same name as the pages flip rapidly, isolating one word in the middle of the screen. The movement of all the wrong parts of the book makes it seem like you're being fed a subliminal message (though perhaps "you can find meaning in text by viewing it differently" isn't as subversive as you'd think). Flatland seems to be the epitome of what Carter and Barrett sought to produce. The video is a splicing of eight frames and ambient sounds recorded along a day-long boatride through the Mekong delta. The merging of the frames into static-y, grey field lines focuses your attention away from the movement of the boat and onto the larger details — the moon slowly appearing as a white blob, the darkening coastline as the boat moves closer, and the soft, high-pitched wail of Vietnamese music coming from houses along the shore. Detanico and Lain realize that sometimes the things said, in motion, need brakes in order to be appreciated.
The Randall Scott Gallery is located at 1326 14th Street NW and is open Wednesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. All Things Said, In Motion runs until March 17.
• Posted by Heather Goss