Thursday, April 26, 2012
Keeping it moving
Charles Atlas, Painting by Numbers, 2011, video (Photo: Carol Diehl)
When I first saw the impressively wall-size Charles Atlas video installations at Luhring Augustine Bushwick (up through July 15th) I was excited. Animated abstraction—they could be paintings come to life. But unlike a good painting, where your interest grows the more you look at it (I’m thinking of my experience with the de Koonings at MoMA) these pieces, upon extended viewing, became more repetitious and tedious. How could that be? Video and film, just by being able to incorporate movement, should be more interesting than, say (for comparison, given the scale) a Sol LeWitt wall drawing. And it can happen: Nam June Paik, who started the whole video phenom, was a master of surprise. Christian Marclay’s film smorgsbords can keep you transfixed for, well, 24 hours.
But then not all that looks new, is new. On his Facebook page, British artist Alasdair Duncan, who I met when he was installing his exhibition at Stephanie Theodore in Bushwick, posted examples of abstract animation that offer some historical perspective. Enjoy! And thank you, Alasdaire.
Len Lye, “Trade Tattoo,” 1932, made in association with the British General :
Len Lye, “Color Flight,” 1937, also made in association with the British General Post Office.
John Whitney, “Catalog,”1961
John Whitney, “Matrix III,” 1972