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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Video Art and the Cyclopean Eye

Pitch Project’s latest endeavor

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“Performing for Cyclops” at The Pitch Project aims to show cutting-edge work that requires more than a modicum of attention from the viewer. The show consists primarily of video with the addition of photographic installations. The five artists featured pursue various forms of narrative, metaphor and even a bit of science-fiction theater in their time-based works.

Kambui Olujimi’s Not Now Nor Then benefits from its solo placement in a front room. In this video, a female action figure questions her place in the world. Meanwhile, a resonant voice speaks to her about connection, social media and the confusion of the tangible world. Olujimi’s video takes its inspiration from the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, presumably over the Indian Ocean. The ability to vanish and relinquish all ties to the life one has known prompts the question, “If our perceptions of total connectivity are wrong and the world is not in fact flat, then I ask you, what is on the other side?”

William Lamson’s video, Actions, goes for starker metaphors of transience and destruction with innocuous black balloons and their tethers floating against a stark white background. Resonant with theme and variation, sometimes the balloons meet a popping demise as they rise and fall through the space of a spindly wooden structure, or in other moments disintegrate as thin dark lines burst past them onscreen. The exploding balloons have echoes of party favors as well as the fractured sounds of gunshot.

While Olujimi and Lamson stretch their visual approach into symbolic motifs, other artists home in on more personal fodder. Jonathan Gitelson’s The Quitter chronicles the ends of his cigarette habit. In Julie Lequin’s multi-channel True Stories (Almost), silent voices are supplemented by gestural body language, costumes and one character’s observant, chattering monologue.

Performing for Cyclops presents technical considerations not faced by installations of more conventional works. Though a recent visit was marred by the absence of a few pieces due to difficulties with playback, The Pitch Project is to be commended for efforts in its progressive programming.

The show will be on display through Oct. 12, at The Pitch Project, 706 S. Sixth St.