The 20-frame grid of iconographic images that make up Marco Brambilla's video projection piece Flashback (POV) pulse rhythmically, gliding upward and downward to suggest the pulsations of consciousness.
While the images are sampled from existing films, the piece sparks less a mapping of film history through recognizable moments - a flashback, of sorts - than a conjuring of Jungian archetypes, with symbols of transformation and transcendence, of life and death: a tree, an apple, a coiled snake, a naked woman, a bedraggled doll, a falling house, train tracks, a spider and a camera lens are among the images that flash across the grid momentarily, quickly replaced with the next to create what the artist calls a "kinetic video canvas."
The piece, with its multiple flickering frames, epitomizes what seems to be an obsession among contemporary media artists, namely the desire to divide the single image field into many frames, to refuse the coherence of the singular in favor of a different logic, one that signifies simultaneity and juxtaposition. From YooouuuTuuube, which lets users easily create a pulsing grid of videos akin to Brambilla's piece, to the dozens of synchronous frames that make up some of the best online video performances (such as In B Flat, a collaborative music project), the proliferation of screens is vast, and it makes you wonder about the changing role of editing.
Rather than crafting a story or linear sequence, the video grid orchestrates images across a flat space, and our attention is on sweeps of movement rather than a continuous narrative space. These grids, for whatever reason, are strangely and completely satisfying.
Brambilla's Flashback (POV), which opened last weekend at Christopher Grimes Gallery in Santa Monica, offers a taste of the artist's work prior to the large-scale solo exhibition slated to open at the Santa Monica Museum of Art on May 21, 2011. Titled The Dark Lining, the show will feature Brambilla's new work Evolution (Megaplex), a 3-D video projection, as well as seven other video installations made by the artist since 1999, including the three-channel piece called HalfLife (Surveillance Channel), which examines players of the well-known video game, and the kaleidoscopic Cathedral. The show will also offer the first presentation of the artist's 3-D version of his 2008 video collage Civilization (Megaplex).
Flashback (POV) will be on view at Christopher Grimes through July 2, 2011; The Dark Lining show will be on view May 21 through August 20, 2011.