Thursday, October 11, 2012

Pixture Me

Daniel Cosentino
at Rochester Contemporary Art Center
all photos courtesy of RoCo

At Rochester Contemporary on East Avenue until November 18th, see the show titled: "Me Pix", Picturing Ourselves in Video and Photography.  Social media is thrown into relief through the focus of fine art.  This kind of performance art has been going on for a very long while, and every pebble thrown into the pond of experience makes ripples, some even carry over long distances and have lasting power.  I am reminded of performance pieces ( "Happenings" ) that I witnessed as a teenager  in Manhattan in the 1960's, and some people talk and write about these occurrences ( see Mildred Glimcher's new book ) - in other words they become iconic, almost mythic events in the art world,  Why?, well it is the butterfly effect and somebody has to be there to document it.

Stefan Petranek shows structured portraits of individuals presenting scorecards of their latest thoughts - the equivalent of a cartoon thought bubble - except that many of the people here are involved in scholarly pursuits, some at the university where Petranek teaches.  A geneticist holds up a chart outlining a standard model of how genes are passed along to children, it is a grid she holds in her hand as she stands in front of a grid of windows - part of the architecture - and it is interesting how our pursuits keep coming back to the same primitive forms of lineage.  Petranek keeps a large format camera filled with film to carefully portray individuals engaged in thinking about the sciences and arts ( he mentions trying to photograph E.O.Wilson, whose new book "The Social Conquest of Earth" - well worth reading - is implicated in this exhibition).

Stefan Petranek
at Rochester Contemporary Art Center

How we present ourselves, and to whom, are big questions that open up a window onto social media. The notions of privacy have been eroded, and we are complicit.  "Happenings" were a particular event witnessed by a live audience ( my earliest New York exhibitions as a young artist were engaged with a small audience ).  Now this kind of performance has become inverted.. there are many people watching but they no longer get together to experience an event in the same place together as they may have in the past.  More often than not, people may be watching video from the comfort of their own home, and networking through Facebook - and this fact becomes the focal point for Ann Oren's part of the show.
Ann's video for example has a cartoon apartment room drawn in a very gestural style into which she places her actors and actresses to present typical human interests: cleaning up, taking a bath, playing an instrument, etc. and these simple acts are all seductive in their own way.  The viewer becomes the voyeur, and this is underlined by watching a lady in her underwear perform for the camera, a bit of eye candy for the jaded exhibitionist.

Ann Oren
at Rochester Contemporary Art Center

Daniel Cosentino has spent the past few years in Kosovo, one of the youngest countries in the world, - a hot spot recovering from dislocation, war and other traumas.  Daniel teaches for R.I.T. at this outpost and he works with media in a style related to Andy Warhol's "Auditions" - video or film with long takes and little activity.

Sound is not present, image is prominent, the drama is understated - we get to experience "real time"
in Daniel's work.  Very intriguing is the revolving swivel chair that the performers use during the videos.  The artist is forced to change his perspective through the efforts of a hand cranked transmission of power and vision.  It is this physical manifestation of a metaphor that is so apt for this show.