Portland art blog + news + exhibition reviews + galleries + contemporary northwest art

recent entries

Resist: Inauguration at Una Gallery
Early February links
First Thursday Picks February 2017
Dead tree media & dead horse flogging news
Post Snowpocalypse Weekend Picks
More Disjecta'd
New Year opportunities
Monday Integrity Links
First Thursday Picks January 2017
Jason Berlin + Alanna Risse at Rainmaker
Saying goodby to 2016
Mid December Links

recent comments

getfogged
Double J
Double J
joewbrown

categories

 

Book Review
Calls for Artists
Design Review
Essays
Interviews
News
Openings & Events
Photoblogs
Reviews
Video
Links
About PORT

regular contributors

 

Tori Abernathy
Amy Bernstein
Katherine Bovee
Emily Cappa
Patrick Collier
Arcy Douglass
Megan Driscoll
Jesse Hayward
Sarah Henderson
Jeff Jahn
Kelly Kutchko
Drew Lenihan
Victor Maldonado
Christopher Moon
Jascha Owens
Alex Rauch
Gary Wiseman

archives

 

Guest Contributors
Past Contributors
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005

contact us

 

Contact us

search

 


syndicate

 

Atom
RSS

powered by

 

Movable Type 3.16

This site is licensed under a

 

Creative Commons License

Saturday 03.31.07

« Oddities and Ends | Main | PSU MFA Monday Night Lecture Series • Tonight: Susan Robb »

Matt McCormick at Elizabeth Leach Gallery

mccormick_amboy_roysmotel.jpg
Still from McCormick's Motor Hotel

It's the last day of Matt McCormick's Future So Bright at Elizabeth Leach Gallery and the show has spurred a lot of private discussions I'd like to air here.

The videos were initially shot on a 16mm hand cranked Bolex and have this wonderful color saturation, but they picked up some artifacts when scanned into digital. The mélange is a kind of purgatory moment in media, mimicking the temporal structures the images depict. At first the digital artifacts bothered me as it obscured the subtle rustling of the grass in front of an old mining building in the single channel video "Western Edge." In other cases the digital artifacts were impossible to distinguish between heat waves in front of an abandoned building. I both liked and felt cheated by the ambiguity. Does this need a higher resolution scan? Would that ruin it? What if the single channel video "Western Edge" were even bigger and shown by itself?

mccormick_shaniko_house.jpg
Matt McCormick's Shaniko House [Still from Western Edge] (2007)


What I like about this work is that it is immersive video that straddles the world of contemporary art and documentary filmmaking. In the art world the long takes of structures relate to Warhol's Empire, Fischli/Weiss, Ed Ruscha and Douglas Gordon (think of an elephant as a structure) among others. In film, long takes relate of course to Gus Van Sant and Kubrick etc. McCormick also has made photographic stills which in themselves are aysmptotic takes.

motorhotel2.jpg
Motor Hotel installation

What is interesting about McCormick's dual channel "Motor Hotel" is how it feels like a slideshow compared to Warhol's Empire. It's more sympathetic too but somehow it lacks its power… maybe if another related 2 channel video (which exist) were in the same room as "Motor Hotel" it would become more immersive, overwhelming and take on some of Warhol's serial power?

The single channel video, "Western Edge" is the stronger of the two pieces in the show. In "Western Edge" the long takes are much longer, the windmills make sounds in the distance and instead of a snse of desolation, the abandoned buildings have the personality of a weathered old prospector whom McCormick is having a staring contest with. The video is also related to the Juddian color treatment in that the structures are bathed in sublime, shifting light that emphasizes their persistence as objects. If one has ever wondered about living off the grid and becoming a squatter somewhere in the American West, McCormick's "Western Edge" has a powerful appeal.

Though fleeting, McCormick's videos of abandoned buildings and signage treat us to a fractured glimpse of this young artist/filmmakers travels, the history of the westward expansion, the Americana of roadside kitsch, the history of moving images and even the history of transportation. It's nostalgia but it's also a kind of celebration that there is still space in America. A weathered America? The sympathetic America? Is it an America where you can still have a gold rush with all the even more interesting opportunities that the end of that gold rush offers? Has McCormick presented us a bust time as a kind of respite from intense commercialization?

In a country where historical awareness is kept to a minimum this dogged lens on the past makes McCormick a kind of conscientious objector to American amnesia (a very Portland stance) but it is a sympathetic objection. Unlike Warhol or Kubrick's work these videos seem to say, there is still gold in dem dar hills, if only one is willing to re-evaluate their needs. This show could have been more immersive with a more massive space but Future So Bright is an auspicious Portland gallery debut, which could be much more fully realized at a place like Dia Beacon or Site Santa Fe.

Motorhotel.jpg
Motor Hotel installation

I particularly liked how the show tended towards an epicurean philosophy weve seen in earlier works like "Towlines" instead of the more entertaining comedy of his most famous work "The Subconscious Art of Graffiti Removal." The art world can reward both types of fare but it seems like the film world would be more interested in entertainment. Besides that inherent difference in audience, I'd encourage McCormick to pursue the more varied presentation options that video art offers in contrast to theaters. He's in a great position to persue both outlets and it's a strength. Lastly, McCormick's work may be nostalgic but it is very now, as it provides an alternative expanding horizon to the seemingly shrinking American experience. Fitting that the past has such a liberating effect.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 31, 2007 at 10:28 | Comments (4)


Comments

Unfortunately, I don't live in town and I can't see the show. I am intrigued by the residual minutia on the digital, particularly in relation to the temporality of the images and their presentation as slide show. "We were here" in a manner of speaking. Memory accumulates alot of stuff over time...entropically, that would suggest a gradual slowing down. Wish I could be there!
Btw, did you mean Douglas Gordon?

Posted by: joewbrown [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 1, 2007 08:33 AM

Yes Douglas Gordon... David Gordon is the director of the Milwaukee Art Museum, my old stomping grounds. My apologies its been a busy week (It may suprise some that I dont spend a majority of my time working on PORT). Also, it is incredibly nice to know that PORT's reader's catch such things!

PORT is interested in doing a book sometime in 2008 and I like how our reader's act as copy editors. The book will give us the opportunity to go back and edit some of the earlier reviews too and once we have gone to PORT v. 2.0 we will have copy editing built into the process, especially for long reviews.

As far as seeing the work:

Matt has recieved a lot of curatorial attention lately... Moscow Biennial, Uncertain States of America etc. I suspect you might get the chance to see this work elsewhere soon.

Posted by: Double J [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 1, 2007 11:57 AM

Spoke with Matt last night some... the digital artifacts are from the compression to DVD format.

Ideally in the future... he thought using raw uncompressed video on a hard drive will be the best way to go. Many players can accept microdrives but the trick is for it to be uncompressed.. Any 200+gig hard drive could handle these videos. DVD's were really created for tiny home screens (which aren't so tiny any more), not projecting on an entire wall. The "Blueray" format helps but for a situation like this uncompressed video would be ideal.

Ahh technology.... The DVD as a dinosaur makes me feel my age.

Posted by: Double J [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 3, 2007 10:04 AM

Just saw Paris, Texas a week or so back, which convinced me that Wim Wenders should be a part of the discussion about McCormick's influences. Especially with the additional consideration of the Ry Cooder-like musical accompaniment to the Holocene presentation of Future So Bright. This would also be consistent with JJ's take on Matt's political stance; like Wenders, in love with America and its precarious urban-rural divide, and determined to retrieve the sublimity of that which most of us find commonplace.

Posted by: getfogged [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 3, 2007 10:41 AM

Post a comment

Thanks for signing in, . Now you can comment. (sign out)

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)


Remember me?


s p o n s o r s
Site Design: Jennifer Armbrust   •   Site Development: Philippe Blanc & Katherine Bovee