This fall, the Whitney Museum of American Art will presents Dreamlands: lmmersive Cinema and Art, 1905-2016, a landmark exhibition that focuses on the ways in which artists have dismantled and reassembled the conventions of cinema-screen, projection, darkness-to create new experiences of the moving image. The exhibition will fill the Museum’s 18,000-square-foot Neil Bluhm Family Galleries on the fifth floor, as well as the adjacent Kaufman Gallery, and will include a film series in the Susan and John Hess Family Theater. Dreamlands will be on view from October 28, 2016 through February 5, 2017.
“Dreamlands brings together a group of artists whose work articulates the profound shift that has taken place as technology has transitioned the moving image from analog to virtual,” states the Whitney’s Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Curator Chrissie lies, who is curating the exhibition. “The exhibition’s title refers to the science fiction writer H.P. Lovecraft’s alternate fictional dimension, whose terrain of cities, forests, mountains, and an underworld can be visited only through dreams. Similarly, the spaces in Dreamlands connect different historical moments of cinematic experimentation, creating a story that unfolds like a map of dreaming. A series of immersive spaces fracture our assumptions of perspective, the horizon line, and a stable projected image.“
Bruce Conner (1933–2008). Frame enlargement from CROSSROADS, 1976. 35mm film transferred to video, black-and-white, sound_ 37 min. Courtesy Conner Family Trust and Kohn Gallery, Los Angeles © Conner Family Trust
The exhibition, with works spanning from the early 1900s to the present, is the result of four years of intensive scholarly research by curator lies, involving experts from all corners of the worlds of art and film. It will be the most technologically complex project mounted in the Whitney’s new building to date, embracing a wide range of moving image techniques, from hand-painted film to the latest digital technologies.
Trisha Baga (b. 1985), Flatlands, 2010 Video, color, sound; 18 min., with disco ball and 3D glasses. Collection of the artist; courtesy Greene Naftali Gallery, New York Installation view, Greene Naftali Gallery, New York, 2011 © Trisha Baga and Greene Naftali Gallery, New York
The works on view use color, touch, music, spectacle, light, and darkness to confound our expectations, flattening space through animation and abstraction, or heightening the illusion of three dimensions. Visitors will experience projections, sculptures, and installations that allow them to: walk through projection beams and reams of film stock; watch a video made with a 360-degree camera projected inside the ceiling of a cardboard geodesic dome, and on Oculus Rifts; view concept artwork made for Walt Disney‘s Fantasia; view a synesthetic environment in which music is written according to color; see the visual futurist Hollywood designer Syd Mead‘s colorful concept artwork for Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner shown projected onto screens, creating a sense of the uncanny nair environment of the city; look at the world through 3-D glasses in installations; and step inside the screen and become part of it.
Alex Da Corte (b. 1980) with Jayson Musson (b. 1977). Easternsports, 2014. Four-channel video, color, sound; 152 min., with four screens, neon, carpet, vinyl composition tile, metal folding chairs, artificial oranges, orange scent, and diffusers. Score by Devonté Hynes. Collection of the artists; courtesy David Risley Gallery, Copenhagen, and Salon 94, New York. Installation view, Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, 2014 © Alex Da Corte; image courtesy the artist and Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania
The exhibition features works by American artists and filmmakers, and also includes a small number of works of German cinema and art from the 1920s with a strong relationship to, and influence on, American art and film. Featured are works in installation, drawing, 3-D environments, sculpture, performance, painting, and online space, by Trisha Baga, Ivana Basic, Frances Bodomo, Dora Budor, ian Cheng, Bruce Conner, Ben Coonley, Joseph Cornell, Andrea Crespo, Franc;:ois Curlet, Alex Da Corte, Oskar Fischinger, Liam Gillick, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Pierre Huyghe, Alex Israel, Mehdi Belhaj Kacem and Pierre Joseph, Aidan Koch, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Anthony McCall, Josiah McElheny, Syd Mead, Lorna Mills, Jayson Musson, Melik Ohanian, Philippe Parreno, Jenny Perlin, Mathias Poledna, Edwin S. Porter, Oskar Schlemmer, Hito Steyer!, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Stan VanDerBeek, Artie Vierkant, and Jud Yalkut, among others, some of which have been made especially for the exhibition.
Lynn Hershman Leeson (b. 1941), Double Drawing, 1966 (recto). Ink, colored pencil, transfer type, watercolor, collaged gelatin silver prints, and plastic on paper, 8 x 4 in. (20.3 x 10.2 cm). Collection of the artist; courtesy Bridget Donahue Gallery, New York © Lynn Hershman Leeson; photographs by Marc Brems Tatti; images courtesy Bridget Donahue Gallery, New York
As film historian Tom Gunning writes in his catalogue essay, “What is Cinema? The Challenge of the Moving Image Past and Future“: “Cinema, before it is anything else, before it is a story, a canvas for special effects, a display of the beauty and grace of stars, before it weaves a tissue of ideology or makes us laugh and cry, presents images that move. This is why it was invented, what separates it from the previous arts of depiction, and also what it shares with the torrent of emerging technological media. But this is also what we take for granted in watching movies and other moving-image media.“ Continue reading