September 29, 2006

A Multidimensional Masterpiece

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I’m slightly embarrassed to say that the only real art knowledge I have is the direct result of living with an art student, and the only real art I’ve studied are her old assignments that now adorn our walls. But it doesn’t take a budding Picasso to find Michael Henderson’s Loop Negative One exhibit both interesting and unique.
When I finally stumbled upon the exhibit, housed on the second floor of the Johnson Art Museum in a room no larger than a walk in closet, I found that it was certainly not what I expected. The room’s white walls were entirely bare except for a mirror on one wall and a projection on the other. Two old TV sets lay on their side in the corner, and aside from the dim light given off by the projector and television screen, the room is entirely dark. In stark contrast to the Johnson’s floor-to-ceiling windows, the room reminded me of scene straight out of The Ring.
Loop Negative One, however, is actually a three-channel video installation that combines both animated text and digital video. The two television screens are like a real-life mind game as they show a “loop sequence.” In the sequence, a bearded man dressed in a white hoodie and khaki pants comes in through a white door and seemingly disappears, but at the same time, on the next TV, the man leaves through a plain white door. This engrossing sequence is repeated over and over again. Simultaneously, a projector depicts a scene of waves crashing with the words, “Wait…Come to Pass” circling around above. The waves themselves were actually shot on location at Jones Beach in Long Island, New York. Even though the same words, and the same actions, are repeated over and over again you will most likely find it hard to tear your eyes away.
This exhibit may sound harder to comprehend than I Heart Huckabees, but I think that it is the simplicity of the piece itself that is most interesting. Being no expert on interpretation, I turned to the pamphlet on Loop Negative One that was handed to me as I walked in for some sort of an explanation: “Loop Negative One. . . has no beginning or end — describing a continuous circle; it refers to the subjective experience of time and the paradox at the intersection of past, present and future.”
I may not have witnessed such a paradox on my visit, but I nonetheless found the exhibit relaxing, and in some ways entrancing. Loop Negative One is worth the walk and will, at the very least, give you something cool to talk about.
The exhibit is open at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art until October 22. Should you happen to get lost on the second floor like I did, just ask the security guard to point you in the right direction — he’s friendly!