Weekly Update – Out of Frame at the Art Alliance

This week’s Weekly has my review of Out of Frame, the HD video exhibit at the Art Alliance. Here’s the link to the art page and below is the copy with some images. And you can see more images at flickr.

Dreaming in HD
Moving pictures take you away at the Art Alliance.

Ben Jones
Ben Jones of Paper Rad’s Dr. Doo TV Document, from Out of Frame at the Art Alliance.

Give artists high-definition video equipment and the opportunity to show their work on television, and the results will be amazing. That’s the hypothesis proven by the 18-artist HD video extravaganza at the Philadelphia Art Alliance. Not only is “Out of Frame: Motion Art From Mobius” a trippy, candy-colored delight, it sounds great—with music from jazz and rock to folk and moody synthesized melodies. I would’ve liked a few benches to sit on as I trooped from HD monitor to HD monitor in the nice little screening rooms, but that’s a minor complaint about an exhibit packed with memorable moments.

Some of the works are by artists working with fractals. I’m sorry I don’t know the artist here but the works were knockouts of color and hoodoo voodoo special effects.

This is a show created by unusual interplay between big business and art. Concrete Pictures, a media services agency in Bala Cynwyd, created MOOV HD (which has evolved into the Mobius Project) to commission new HD video art. (See–and hear–a collage of the videos at that link.) Ted Passon—local filmmaker and co-founder of Padlock Gallery—was the talent scout, and more than 100 artists participated.

Kara Crombie
Kara Crombie’s slow motion piece set in Philadelphia’s Chinatown with the neon signs changed into color lozenges.

The resulting short nonnarrative works (more than 135 hours’ worth) ran on TV a few years back on Rainbow Media’s Voom HD satellite network. MOOV HD channel is no longer available, but this exhibit, with selections from the archive, indicates how exciting that idea was, and what great results this art/business collaboration produced.

The Art Alliance show—with works selected by Mobius’ Wade Echer and the PAA’s Melissa Caldwell—runs the gamut from energetic animated abstractions to documentary-like works of elegiac beauty. There’s something for every taste, and no vacuously decorative video wallpaper.

Paul Westergard
Paul Westergard’s Happy in my Mouth. As with all the works, sound (here, an energetic jazz work) washes over the image creating a mood that enhances the whole experience.

My favorites include Paul Westergard’s Happy in My Mouth—a jet stream of changing digital colors that rockets along merrily to jazz—and Ben Jones’ (of Paper Rad) two cheery, energetic winners that merge the flat graphics of Atari video games with the rebellious anarchy of Homestar Runner.

Valerie Keller
Valerie Keller’s Discarded –slow motion images of shopping carts with a forlorn voiceover.

Valerie Keller’s Discarded is just beautiful. Like a slowly morphing slideshow of still images, the piece, shot in Los Angeles, features weed-strewn parking lots and abandoned shopping carts. The accompanying audio is people talking about their love lives—stories of miscommunication and missteps.

Colin James
Colin James’ Huxley. Passon told me that James’s day job is designing for corporations and that he was happy to try something for himself for a change. His piece, one of three in the show that is projected large and not on a monitor, is great.

Colin James’ projection Huxley is notable for its evocation of a morphing corporate logo coming together in slow motion—only here the soundtrack is punctuated by what might be gunshots.

Peter Rose
Peter Rose’s piece (sorry I don’t have the name) shows people disappearing into another dimension right there on South Broad St. (click to see it bigger)

Local filmmakers Peter Rose, Bonnie Scott, Pablo Colapinto and Kara Crombie all deliver solid works that combine imaginative use of space and people.

I keep thinking about living with these works of dreamy seduction on my TV at home. I don’t know that I’d get any work done, but I love the idea of a commercial TV channel devoted to visual art. I hope Mobius finds another host for its great project.

“Out of Frame: Motion Art From Mobius”
Through Dec. 31. $5. Philadelphia Art Alliance, 251 S. 18th St. 215.545.4302.