|SuttonBeresCuller: Panoptos at The Henry|
Last Friday night’s gala at the Henry celebrated both the opening of SuttonBeresCuller: Panoptos and Image Transfer: Pictures in a Remix Culture. Both shows, though curated separately, address how we use technology to manage and manipulate the visual world. The two shows are also about our relationship with “found imagery”, a hallmark of new media, where technology allows both new ways of seeing the familiar as well as the ease of finding and appropriating previously existing images.
Jeff and I have been frequent attendees at SAM Remix, the quarterly parties that bring live music, interactive tours and a refreshingly youthful energy to the Seattle Art Museum. Henry’s Open House successfully captured the same energy with a crowd that felt more University in contrast to SAM’s more cosmopolitan scene. It made excellent people watching with many attractive and stylish young men and women – so that’s where they’ve all been hiding!
|From Jordan Kantor’s series of prints, Eclipse (2009)|
The more impressive and engaging of the two shows was easily Panoptos by the artists SuttonBeresCuller. In one gallery you see over 150 pieces from the Henry Archive displayed “salon style” along three walls. Meanwhile a high definition video camera glides slowly along the x- and y-axis, recording the image inches away from the works of art. In an adjacent gallery viewers operate the position of the camera using a joystick, and a large flat screen monitor projects the extreme close-up view of the artworks. In the few moments Jeff and I watched the screen we saw details that were completely obscured or either uninteresting when viewed in its original gallery. Eventually photographs from the video will be available online to create the third level of abstraction from the original source material. The explanatory booklet describes the importance of the online component to the overall content of the piece, but after a quick search of the Henry website, I couldn’t find where these are located. If it’s so important you’d think it would be easier to access, but that doesn’t seem to be the Henry’s mission.
|Lisa Oppenheim’s The Sun Is Always Setting Somewhere Else… (2006)|
My general beef with the Henry Art Gallery is its impenetrability to audiences unfamiliar to the work. This is evidenced in the exhibit Image Transfer: Pictures in a Remix Culture, a grab-bag of contemporary artworks that deal primarily with found images cultivated from the myriad sources (online, print, television, etc.) that we are familiar with in our day-to-day lives. My favorites from this exhibit were Amanda Ross-Ho’s Camera, Aerial View (2008), Lisa Oppenheim’s The Sun Is Always Setting Somewhere Else… (2006), and Matt Keegan’s Images are Words/Las Imágenes son Palabras (2010), which in their own ways manipulated found images or, for Amanda Ross-Ho, the room itself in ways that were easily identifiable. Other works in the collection were baffling. Luckily I happened to be in the gallery when artist Jordan Kantor was explaining his fabulous series of prints Eclipse (2009). Without his impromptu tour I probably wouldn’t have given his works more than a quick glance. The Henry makes a strong curatorial argument against didactic explanatory text, because an art gallery should allow the works to explain themselves and inspire the dialogues that occur in the absence of the voice of authority. That’s why you don’t see headsets with pre-recorded lectures – a mainstay at SAM. However, it’s also alienating when you find yourself on the outside looking in at some of the more obtuse works. If accessibility is important to you, I would suggest checking out their public tours offered by reservation Wednesdays 12 – 12:30.