Monday, March 8, 2010

VIDEOLIFE

posted by Free Press Houston @ 4:52 PM


by Johnny DiBlasi

In a non-descript red brick house nestled in the maze of Houston’s bohemia, Michael Brims’ “A Video-Centric Exhibit” flickered through a maze of stark white walls, casting ominous. The pieces commanded space, talking to each other-- the kind of scene depicted in Fahrenheit 451 where family and friends have a conversation from giant screens in Guy’s mother’s house. Surprisingly, the show consisted entirely of video works-- something I rarely see at art functions here in Houston. I hope that Michael Brims show is a sign that we will continue to see more events that fully utilize video and digital media without regards to outdated and tired (and yet prevalent) traditions of art. Video works may supplement photography one day, but for now I am happy to see digital media employ experimental uses for HD monitors and projectors. Using different shapes, sizes and orientations, some screens in “A Video-Centric Exhibit” were hung like paintings with a frame while others were placed on pedestals.
Like fellow German artist Joseph Beuys, Brims’ own body is central to his videos. Stubbles, Nipple and Vertical Ear focus and zoom in on body parts in HD, creating pink and orange hairy landscapes. Here the body was a formal focus, a coarse substrate. I wonder how much more time and effort is going to go into masking and covering up the body’s imperfections in television and film shot in HD, all for the sake of keeping up with an unrealistic standard of beauty.
Relatively quiet, the audio added little to the bodily landscapes in most pieces. Two Untitled works gazed at each other from across the room, focused on close-ups of the artist’s face, lying down, and thinking. The silence, slow movements, blinking eyes and shifts in posture gave the work a meditative quality. Suddenly the calm was broken with Laughter from the other room; a close up of Brims laughing in an exaggerated tone stood gigantic on the wall.
I appreciated Brims’ ability to narrow in on a single function of the moving image. With degrees from the University of Munich and Houston, his influences have produced a vision that is straightforward and gothic, simple but mysterious. “A Video-Centric Exhibit” isolated and addressed what Deleuze dubbed the Movement Image, while completely disregarding the Time Image. The works functioned almost as photographs. With no narrative, Brims stripped his videos of a key function of the moving image and subverted normal viewing habits-- so often produced and packaged for us. Experimental video questions these systems of media and force viewers to think about what one is tuning into throughout the day. What are you tuning into today?

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