Sunday, August 12, 2012

August Mission: Contemporary Art Museum Video Exhibition

Matt’s Version:

It wasn’t a very hairy ass, but it took damn near 10 minutes to shave it.

I watched it all. From the front row I had an intimate view of the projected image shot with Super 8mm film, and it was raw footage in every sense of the term. This was just part of one of the three “pieces” we watched at the Contemporary Art Museum (CAM) for this month’s mission.

Andrew Lampert was the filmmaker and projectionist, and he narrated the selected works. As you can see on the CAM website Andrew Lampert is a semi-famous artist that has done these types of shows all over the world. After sitting through three of his films, I can only offer see two options for his supposed celebrity: he rode to success on the coattails of a real artist, or he is very good at putting on big shows and I got jipped at the smallish CAM venue. 

Several times during the performance and afterwards during the FAQ Lampert told us that he has done big shows with a dozen or more projectors going at once, often with live musical accompaniment. He mentioned it so often that I was struck with the idea that perhaps he knew this event was pretty lame, and he wanted us to know that he was the real thing. Well, I wasn’t convinced. At least I wasn’t convinced that he would appeal to someone like me, who has only a casual interest in art. The evening wasn’t a total waste, however. As is the recurring theme here on Not-Rot, we still accomplished what we set out to do, which is try something new and different that would engage our brains. Plus it’s not everyday you get to watch a guy get his bum shaved.  

Chris’ Version:

For our August mission, we decided to check out the Contemporary Art Museum, and specifically a lecture/demonstration of a specific artist. I know that often modern art has the bad reputation of being kitsch—cheap and careless art that tries to pass itself off as genius—but Matt and I kind of wanted the chance to see for ourselves if it was true. To be sure, some people stereotype all modern art as kitsch, and, though I don’t believe all of it is, I was secretly hoping to have an experience with art that was borderline between kitsch and genius. It’s as fun to rant about bad art as it is to rave about great art. I think we got that opportunity which, in my inexpert opinion, might have been more rant than rave.

For what it’s worth, the clip that Lampert, the artist, had on loop on the big screen while people were taking their seats previous to the show, seemed very promising. It was a slo-mo video in negative of a Super Mario mascot, standing on a street corner while people passed by. It was accompanied by low base rumblings and high pitched sonar sounds which added to its eerie feel. I actually had a lot of interesting impressions tickle my brain as we waited and watched it. But thoughtful impressions faded quickly as the actual show started which included: random scenes from Lampert’s childhood movie-making blunders conveniently reinterpreted as precocious foreshadowing of his future success, a succession of takes in which two women in rustic clothing improvised a 19th century ‘yo-momma’ battle, and a video of random scenes from New York city which were force-narrated into a time-traveling story about Lampert’s family in the future.

Well, aside from my feelings of antipathy for the clips Lampert selected for the show, the Super Mario loop (what Lampert regrettably titled, “Super F*cked Up Mario”) was interesting to say the least, and may be indicative of Lampert’s potential.  He is a video archivist/preservationist, so he certainly has the technical skills to make good art, should he be so inspired. However, I truly wander if Lampert can tell the difference between his ‘great’ work, and…the rest. Being able to rightly evaluate your work might be what separates the good from the great. 

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