Thursday, September 18, 2008

Time in Bottles at Pentimenti

Traditionally, reliquaries are containers or vessels that contain items believed to be imbued with magical powers. During the last First Friday, the Graphic Conscience stopped in Pentimenti Gallery, which is presenting Tim Tate, Video Reliquaries, A Look into a Digital Mind, for the month of September.

Tate, a founder of the Washington Glass School, presents a series of digital videos contained in blown glass vessels (see images above, by the Graphic Conscience). The videos impart imagery such as large eyes, burning books, a naked man doing a handstand, or the viewer’s own face. Because of my background, I was particularly intrigued by the video of burning books. It had the feeling of memory, as if this video was the documentation of a significant event a for which preservation was necessary, perhaps to prevent it from happening again.

The images shift or are altered fairly rapidly, allowing viewers to speedily observe, then walk briskly to the next piece. This speed turns what could be very contemplative pieces almost into novelty items. I felt that if the film was shown at a more relaxed speed, more mystery would develop. Viewers will pause longer to observe and consider, creating an envelope of sacred space around them. For it seems to me this is Tate’s intention, to explore how a sense of the sacred can be found and applied to the media of the twenty-first century.

This is probably the most amazing aspect of Tate’s work, to take digital video, which creates a sense of distance between the artist and the viewer, and instill in it a relationship to a greater mystery. It makes me wonder what forms sainthood will take as technology progresses – some time in the future, will miracles happen online? Will the laying of healing hands adjust to allow viewers to simply visit saint’s consecrated websites? Or will the miracle be an even faster connection speed so that we can get online to find ways to get rid of our money?

Also on view at Pentimenti this month is work by Jacob Lunderby, The Smooth and the Striated, till October 18.

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