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Lysergic Meltdown: Takeshi Murata at Screening


Takashi Murata
Takashi Murata
Takeshi Murata, four stills from Untitled (Pink Dot) at Screening.

I got to see Takeshi Murata‘s Untitled (Pink Dot) at Screening when I was at Vox Populi for the Artblog focus group (see post).

Screening is the video gallery run by video-wonks-extraordinaire and Vox members Nadia Hironaka and Matthew Suib. It’s situated inside Vox in a room within a room, its entrance behind a black curtain.

The press materials from Hironaka and Suib call Murata’s film “lysergic” and I’ll go with that. Murata’s piece is a psychedelic tour de force that appropriates the 1982 Vietnam-era movie Rambo and takes it down. Pink Dot — which throbs and pulses with an intermittent pink dot that appears like a strobe light (pacemaker wearers beware) — is a technical wow featuring Rambo, who charges forth with machine gun raised then melts down into a pile of pixels before your eyes, a mud slide of tiny colored squares that land at the bottom of the screen and are whisked away as the next “scene” unfolds. The pink dot which appears from time to time is an insistent visual element so visually noisy it’s almost unbearable until it, too, degenerates or explodes into a pile of mush. I have to wonder about the pink dot. I understood it as the psychic energy symbol but the color puzzled me. Pink is a girly girl color and the antithesis of Rambo. Perhaps that is why the artist chose pink instead of, say, yellow or black. But the color could be just a color choice to balance all the green and brown and make those pixel meltdowns gorgeous.

Murata’s choice of subject matter for this work is perfect. Rambo, (embodied by post-Rocky Sylvester Stallone) is such an American icon and so much a part of the Vietnam era schtick by now (love beads, heart of darkness, Janis Joplin, pot-smoking, LSD-chewing) that it’s a perfect coupling. And right now, with front page stories of Blackwater Rambos taking the law into their hands in Iraq the video has even deeper resonance.

Murata had a recent screening of his work at MoMA and was featured at the Hirshhorn which bought a piece. The Chicago-born artist and RISD grad (BFA, 1997) has a solo show right now at Ratio 3 in San Francisco.

It’s a coup to have the Murata film in Philly. And Screening’s curtained-off video gallery has comfy stools so you can watch in comfort. The video will screen through November. Don’t miss it.

Here’s a tip from Suib, who wrote us about the video: To get the full effect of this video make sure the volume is turned up (sometimes gallery sitters turn it down). That way the throbbing sound effects hit you in the solar plexus like they should.

319 N. 11th St.
3rd Floor @ Vox Populi
Philadelphia, PA 19107