Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Fight or Flight

Alison Ruttan & Julie Oldham
3 Arts Club
Through February 24

It’s a good show. The presentation at the 3Arts space-some videos in the gallery, some in the sitting room–is great. The videos are technically successful–crisp vivid images on nice new TVs. They are placed against the regal aged setting of 3Arts environment. The installation comes of as dynamic and effective.

I didn’t know Alison Ruttan did video, I thought she was a painter. But apparently that was a while ago. Regardless, the videos are good.

There is one of a cat in a gray and white room. The cat is black and white and looks like my foster cat, Woody. DIGRESSION: I saw this show a few days after first taking him in and was actually startled to see him in the video. I thought, “what sort of crazy stuff did they have him doing before I started taking care of him?” But it’s not Woody in the video, but it could be his brother or sister. The two cats are that similar.

Impersonator (in White), is a two monitor installation, two videos on separate TVs and pedestals facing eachother. The opposite screen has a black-haired young man with BVD’s in the same room. It is very funny. The camera follows the cat around the room, the boy mimics the cat. The camera is almost tormenting the cat, it won’t let him get away.

It’s good to see videos at 3Arts. Both artists’ videos are “painting videos.” That means you can casually watch them and “get” what they are about in a few minutes. More than static art, video really has to be conscious of its audience and how it is viewed. Unfortunately, attention spans are short, especially in regards to a medium so adjacent to the 30 second spot commercial. You wouldn’t really sit and watch these videos at a screening. Especially the two channel video, which is also about space. The space of the room (which had a bunch of dogs in it before they put the cat in there) and the space between the two facing TVs on plinths. These videos are short and sweet, you watch them and move on. I like that. They are simple and about one thing. It’s nice to watch the actor trying to imitate the cat, but watching the cat is much more fascinating.

It’s funny that the human is copying the cat. Really, he is not im-person-ating the cat. He is im-cat-inating. It is a common thing for animals to copy eachother. Dogs will howl along with music, parrots repeat what people say and apes can perform complex tasks if shown how. But humans do it too. We meow at our cats to get their attention. And many a skit is modeled after a human pretending to be an animal. So I guess there are two things going on, the cat reacting to the unfamiliar smells and space, being followed by a camera, and the human trying to copy the cat’s mannerisms.

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