Krzysztof Wodiczko

I recently went to see the newest work by Krzysztof Wodiczko, a Polish artist who bridges the gaps between, installation art, architecture, and cinema.  A brief description of the piece,  Out of Here: The Veteran’s Project that showed during the week of March 16th at Galerie Lelong:

Entering the gallery space through a darkened corridor, people are scattered throughout the large empty area,  staring at the 3 surrounding walls with projections of horizontal windows. The windows offer a muddled view into the outside world, and the only thing that breaks through the artificial barrier at the moment is sound. As spectators, we hear the innocuous sounds of daily life; a child is bouncing a ball, women speak to each other in Iraqi, and wind blows in the distance. From out of  one of the windows a helicopter appears and the buzzing of the propellers becomes an ominous sign of war. There is some shouting from Iraqi citizens and then from American soldiers.  A ball bounces and breaks another window. The helicopter reappears again. Then in the next moment gunfire breaks out. More windows break. All you can hear is screaming and gunfire, and all you can see out the windows are violent fiery explosions.

As the image unfolded,I noticed my anxiety level rising, and the relationship between spectator and participant became increasingly nebulous with each shot fired. I don’t think that this affection would have been as pronounced if I was watching this on a screen, and I think that the power and politics in this piece lay within the architecture of the image.

By transforming the gallery space into an Iraqi bomb shelter, relational aesthetics also come into play here. The viewer/participant relationship is made even more abstracted than the windows we are watching. The folds within folds of this piece echo Cache’s views on both cinema and architecture, as well as Bourriaud’s thesis on Relational Art. While the gallery space becomes part of the piece, so do the the viewers. The projected window frames serve as the frames to the s(t)imulated outside, and the interior and exterior images become even more complex in this piece. Space and time are made anew here by the architectural image and framing. Both the space of the gallery and the virtual windows (but is the gallery space also considered virtual?) create a separation and territorialization that Cache refers to when he talks about the function of the wall in Earth Moves. The wall is part of the actual building but is also part of the art piece. In thinking back about Cache’s description of the wall, I believe that, the wall serves the same function as the stage, which allows movement-images and time -images to flow over it. The window frames on the wall create a possibility that is not actual, but allows for a possibility to open up between exterior and interior relationships with viewers/participants.

In terms of the cinema frame, the windows could potentially be viewed each as a different frame. There is no camera movement or montage. But because it is a projected installation, it is constantly changing, grounded on the location it is shown at. The artist based the piece on interviews and memories conducted with medics, Iraqi citizens and American soldiers, to create what a virtual image, somewhere between documentation and simulation, and an actual/virtual image. What really moves the piece, for me however, is the sound emanating from the room. Sound has the power to break through walls, creating what I think Deleuze would call a description. In the Time Image he states; “The purely optical and sound situation (description) is an actual image, but one which, instead of extending into movement, links up with a virtual image and forms a circuit”.

With this work (as well as works past), Wodiczko crosses the paths between architecture and cinema and creates a work of art that Gene Youngblood the author of the book Expanded Cinema would identify as Intermedia. I had read the book almost a year ago and was instantly reminded of it when I encountered Wodiczko’s work. This concept was originally developed by Fluxis artists in the 1960’s. Wikipedia describes Intermedia Art as, “The areas such as those between drawing and poetry, or between painting and theatre could be described as intermedia. With repeated occurrences, these new genres between genres could develop their own names (e.g. visual poetry or performance art.)”.

Here is a video of his first public projection followed by an interview with the artist.

References:

Cache, Bernard. Earth Moves: the Furnishing of Territories. Cambridge, Mass.u.a.: MIT, 2006. Print.

Deleuze, Gilles. Cinema 1: the Movement-image. London: Continuum, 2005. Print.

Deleuze, Gilles, Hugh Tomlinson, and Robert Galeta. Cinema 2: the Time Image. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 2007. Print.

“Intermedia.” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 05 Apr. 2011.

Krzysztof Wodiczko. Wikipedia. 2010. Wikipedia Foundation, Inc. 5 April 2011.

-Jennifer Thomas
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