Videos Collide in Real 3D Space, curated by Megan Daalder and Fei Liu, Five Thirty Three, Los Angeles, March 27, 2010

Zeesy Powers, synchronized
live-animation compositing

Videos Collide in Real 3D Space, a very professionally presented evening of media-integrated performance art, purported to showcase “a new generation of media artists whose work explores the added value of their own physical presence… [in an] exploration of the moving image in real-life 3D space.”

Combining live action with video projections, monitors, and set design isn’t a new thing. But perhaps an evening focused exclusively on its possibilities is. Some of the works also had qualities that I associate with early performance art—elemental explorations of the body’s movements in space, modeling and mapping, traces of theater and dance. As a result, watching these performances unfold felt like a fresh experience of some sort, a youthful foray into something relatively new.

Johanna Reed’s performance of Wojciech Kosma’s “An intimate score for a projector” started the evening off in a solid way; lying on the stage, the artist balanced a projector on her stomach and breathed in and out, creating a trembling square of light on a screen while the sound of breathing was heard overhead. The simple effectiveness of this performance recalled the early in-studio works of Bruce Nauman.

Zeesy Powers engaged in some “synchronized live-animation compositing,” which meant that she synched her bodily movements to a pre-recorded series of video projections in order to tell a simple visual story. A woman cries blood, barfs up a huge amount of junk, blows a variety of stuff out of her ass, radiates a rainbow from her body, etc. The piece reminded me of a PBS Electric Company skit from the 70s, very after-school cute, but it was technically well done and held my attention.

In a similar vein, Megan Daalder’s “tribute to Karl Sims” found the artist acting out the movements of computer-modeled shapes projected on the screen. The parallel experience of rendered geometric block figures and a live human body moving in tandem was pretty compelling.

A couple of the works, which were the most theatrical in nature, involved heavy and convoluted plot lines that no one really seemed able to follow or care about much. However, Joseph Gillette’s “newest episode of Party Food” did feature a really cool scene where the surfing protagonist has an epic confrontation with his evil father figure, and Ben Bigelow’s “intermedia theatre” had a lovely sequence that used Edward Hopper’s Night Hawks as its set. Matt Barton’s “Animatronics” completed the circle of nifty gimmicks by using a mechanical fox puppet to comment on channel-surfing fodder, à la Beavis and Butthead of old.

Finishing off the evening was Jeremy Bailey’s “Real-time software performance,” which was perhaps the most memorable one, as he succeeded immediately in convincing us that he was the whiniest and most annoying Canadian in history. He then dragged us into a dunce’s lecture on the “future of theatre,” which consisted of saccharine kitten videos from YouTube overlaid with cheap and cheesy interactive special effects. Controls for the effects were passed around to audience members, who gamely manipulated them.

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