Welcome To Your Cell

curated by Vanessa Renwick
VR and video installation show

Work by Erik Ruin & Gelsey Bell
and The Guardian VR directors:
Francesca Panetaa & Lindsay Poulton

 May 12th - 20th, 2018

At: Outer Space, 3726 NE 7th Avenue, Portland, Oregon

BEAMSPLITTERS is a 2-day film/video installation art event held in conjunction with PDX, the Portland Documentary eXperimental Film Festival.  PDX is a project of local filmmaker Matt McCormick and is co-sponsored by the Northwest Film Center, PICA, and RACC. More info at www.peripheralproduce.com

At the heart of the Bolex 16mm reflex camera is a beamsplitter prism, and at the heart of this show is a visual metaphor - the beamsplitter.

BEAMSPLITTERS is a sprawling showcase of new, genre-challenging works of film and video-based installation art.   Participating artists from Portland include Brad Adkins, Philip Cooper, Bill Daniel, The Distance Formula, Vanessa Renwick, and Melody Owen.  From San Francisco comes Thad Povey, from LA, Animal Charm, and from New York, Tony Oursler.  The artists each have distinctly different methods and working vocabularies, but in this show all will be working in various ways with the projected image---whether manipulating the projector's beam mid-throw, placing the projection within a construction or sculpture, or variously modifying or interfering with the projected image.  BEAMSPLITTERS showcases 7 new installation works that demonstrate a range of technical methods that run from the low-fi to the hi-tech, and encompass sculptural, performative, and even documentary approaches.   

A long time ago, before corporate power point presentations created a huge demand for inexpensive portable video projectors, before the consumer market was flooded with cheap dvd players, home video editors and disc burners, artists would sit around and devise and improvise "sculptures" made of salvaged a/v gear, like reel to reel tape decks, record players, slide projectors, 16mm projectors, industrial video monitors and thrift store TV's.  The art would often be "performed" by manually manipulating film and audio loops, by projecting onto unlikely surfaces and objects, and building sculptures that functioned as motion picture viewing devices.  In the 60's and 70's Nam June Paik pioneered this kind of fusion between media and sculpture that has since become an accepted form, so popular now as to become practically a folk idiom like garage rock or hip-hop. 

The availability of new, relatively inexpensive, projectors, editing and playback systems (DVD and DV) has helped create a spike in the production and exhibition of video art installation.  This show, Beamsplitters, showcases 7 new installation works that demonstrate a range of technical methods that run from the low-fi to the hi-tech, and encompass sculptural, performative, even documentary approaches.   Many artists here, who have for years been "film loyalists", are now using these LCD projectors and simple DVD players.  The miniaturization of consumer video projectors has allowed big-time artists like Tony Oursler to position their video work into coffee table video sculptures that are on par with high-end art commodities such as painting and sculpture.

By including their own installation pieces with that of their friends, the curators are also working with the fact that there are few opportunities for these kinds of shows in Portland.  In the absence of established venues and institutions willing to produce large-scale shows within the community here, they hope to help build the scene from the artist's level up.

The Work: