Image: Video Still from Liana Schmidt, Supernatural, 2014
Sculptural Video is the latest of Trinity Square Video’s series of themed commissions aimed at exploring the multiple dimensions of video in contemporary artistic practices. This year’s themed commission invited artists to examine the intersection of sculptural and video-based practices to imagine a hybridized vocabulary of aesthetic concerns. As the conventions of video have inserted themselves ever increasingly into our physical world, artists have been challenging the frame and the screen as a limit to video-based practices. Similarly, contemporary sculpture is heavily informed by a history of painters who challenged the finality of the frame in painting, and moved into more phenomenological relationships with space. The works produced for Sculptural Video analogously travel through multiple levels of engagement/disengagement with the screen, providing a spectrum of surrealist conjurings that fluidly move between flatness and immersion, stillness and temporality, and narrative and dispersion.
Adam David Brown employs elements of Roto-Relief and op-art to construct a celestial orbit of psycho-spatial distortions. Alex M. Lee’s two-sided animation of Freud ruminates on artificial dolls and automatons through passages from Der Sandmann while referencing 19th century inspired dream-sequence landscapes. Jordan Loeppky-Kolesnik’s deconstructed video shoot presents a series of scenes where a Wilhelm Reichian narrative unfolds around a harbor at twilight. Liana Schmidt’s video info station draws from 1970’s science fiction film sets and mall interiors to present an apparition of architectural engagements with nature. And Terrarea’s experimentation with time-based sequences via sculptural and optical collage blur processes of production and presentation. As a collection, these works investigate how imagined spaces—which are so easily produced through video—have, or can be, inserted into our lived environment. They employ diverse approaches for expanding video through a sculptural engagement with space, providing a glimpse of the shifting landscape of contemporary video-based practices.
Press: Canadian Art review
By Bryne McLaughlin
“The first shot opens on an empty factory floor. It is dimly lit by lamps above separate workstations. In the right side of the frame, a shadow moves across the space, over tables and machines. The shadow comes from a doorway.”
So begins the screenplay for Montreal artist Jordan Loeppky-Kolesnik’s television drama/installation, Oysters (2014), part of the group exhibition “Sculptural Video,” currently on view at Trinity Square Video. Loeppky-Kolesnik’s script (available in the gallery) moves from factory floor to luxury hotel room to lounge bar to dockside, tracking the arrival of an omnipresent, and possibly infectious, white-glowing entity—a stand-in, it turns out, for psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich’s hypothetical life-force, Orgone. A stage-set array of props—a low-hanging lamp, an oversized cocktail glass, a tarp-wrapped form on a shipping pallet—all infused in white creates a mise en scène of sorts in the gallery. It’s an intriguing sculptural-theatrical hybrid, a test of the co-dependent limits of words and objects that ultimately hinges on the life-force of the viewer’s imagination.
Indeed, all of the works in “Sculptural Video” seem to fall into this intriguing-yet-experimental range, which makes sense, in a way, as the exhibition is the latest in TSV’s ongoing series of themed artist commissions and residencies “exploring the multiple dimensions of video in contemporary artistic practices.” As exhibition organizer John G. Hampton writes in the gallery press release: “The works produced for Sculptural Video analogously travel through multiple levels of engagement/disengagement with the screen, providing a spectrum of surrealist conjurings that fluidly move between flatness and immersion, stillness and temporality, and narrative and dispersion.”
In the front gallery, artist collective Terrarea (comprised of Emily Hogg, Janis Demkiw and Olia Mishchenko) present Office Space Modulator (2014), an installation that assembles mirrors, plastic magnifying lenses, potted plants, miniature figurines and other bric-a-brac gathered from the gallery onto and around a octagon-shaped Lazy Susan. Animated by fans and spotlights, shadowed forms and reflected-light prisms from the table arrangement are projected onto the gallery wall in a whirling abstraction of the quotidian world.
Standing nearby, Liana Schmidt’s Supernatural (2014) displays a looped video of a revolving sculptural maquette designed as part sci-fi monolith and part shopping-mall planter. Built from foamcore—though looking very much like a CGI creation—Schmidt’s model purposefully calls out the old-school/new-school tectonics of contemporary sculptural practice. At the same time, Schmidt likens the work’s human-scaled sculptural structure to a “mobile information kiosk” that offers a friendly confrontation with the formal and often insidious constructs of commercial space and visual display.
Similarly, in the back gallery, Adam David Brown’s wall-sized video projection Solar System (2014) draws viewers into a vertigo-inducing vortex of circular planetoid shapes culled from NASA images.
And, next to Loeppky-Kolesnik’s Oysters, Montreal artist Alex M. Lee’s Lucid Dreaming (2014) is a double-sided video that displays front-and-back views of a virtual Sigmund Freud. Set against surreal backdrops of rolling oceans, blowing desert sands and deep-space skies, the Freud avatar reads from E.T.A. Hoffmann’s proto-surrealist story Der Sandmann, specifically passages focused on the character Olympia, who/which is revealed to be an automaton. As he reads, the Freud avatar slowly crumples into a pulsing mass of wool tweed, only to reform again and start anew.
“Sculptural Video” is cleverly composed and curated. There’s a smart commingling effect that ebbs and flows across works in the show, from Terrarea and Schmidt’s low-fi constructs to Loeppky-Kolesnik and Lee’s narrative prompts. Immersive shadow play connects the pieces by Terrarea and Brown, just as material and display concerns link Schmidt’s project to Lee’s.
In the end, these artworks—the result of month-long in-situ summer residencies at TSV—win viewers over not with a sense of perfection and polish, but rather a mood of process and progress. There’s something oddly satisfying in the experimental energies, and unexpected dialogues, that are revealed throughout.