Little Berlin–from zoetropes to The Shining

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Conor Fields, a view of the works behind the Untitled bookcase projection

We all have a love affair going with the movies–arguably the narrative art form of our times–and the exhibit in Little Berlin is all about that.

Post Production features multi-media installations by Sarah O’Donnell and Conor Fields that blow kisses to the movies.


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Conor Fields, Day in Paris

Fields’ works hark back to early movie technology, with Neanderthal mechanics imbuing old-fashioned special effects with a sense wonder and eager ingenuity. In Day in Paris, a zoetrope/lampshade salutes both early movie technology and early aviation technology, recreating Alberto Santos-Dumont’s small blimp circling the Eiffel Tower in 1901. My favorite bit in this piece is the old vacuum that powers the spinning lampshade atop the cut glass lamp base. But the deliberate crudeness of the multiple chunky Eiffel Towers and blimps (you can see them through the holes of the lampshade as it spins) also charm.

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Conor Fields, Goin’ to Mars


In another great piece, a terrific little airplane (another boyishly chunky bit of sculpture) circles inside a hollow old television case in Goin’ to Mars, a salute to Trip to Mars. I found myself eagerly anticipating the plane’s approach, timed just long enough to never quite satisfy, and therefore to keep me looking for a better and better view.

(Trend alert–This is the second deadpan spinning lamp piece in a month!! See post here).

As in Day in Paris, the works that keep this going are as wonderful as the show-piece side of the sculpture, and in fact that is the point, here. It’s about the wonders of technology and it’s a salute to the DIY ingenuity behind the early days of cinema. In a way, the work is the sculptural equivalent of the movie Ed Wood.


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Conor Fields, Untitled

Two other pieces, both untitled, involve moving shadows projected through paper screens. The set-up for the triple screen in a bookcase is hilarious for its outrageous anti-slickness. The gallery never got dark enough, on the longest day of the year, for me to see the rocket take off in the other untitled piece. But the relatively elegant and framed, minimal screen embedded in the gallery wall seemed like it might be too highbrow. And the mechanics behind the wall looked less goofy than the others.

Fields is in his last semester at Tyler, and this is a propitious debut.

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Sarah O’Donnell posing with her mega-model Timberline Lodge/Overlook Hotel

O’Donnell’s ambitious recreation of the hotel in The Shining, with film clips through the door and a couple of the windows, is impressive for size alone. The model draws from plans of the building O’Donnell found on the internet.

The piece explores how the movie lies to tell its story–how the movie-set spaces of the interiors of the lodge are an imaginary creation that don’t quite match up with the real place–a hotel in the Pacific Northwest. That probably added to the spookiness of the movie, but maybe not. After all, all movies take you into their personal space of the imagination. O’Donnell gave the piece both its real-life name and its movie name–Timberline Lodge/Overlook Hotel. After all, unreal space and real space are what she is mulling over.

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Sarah O’Donnell, video viewed through the front door of Timberline Lodge/Overlook Hotel

The clips from the movie have been edited so all the actions that takes place in one space are spliced together and projected in their proper space. You can see how there’s something weird, some spatial disjuncture.

The piece is limited by its literalness, however. There’s no video around the back, and not enough of a reward for circling the piece, which, by the way, is the full monty display of the building.

IMG_6555 Sarah O'Donnell

Sculpturally, what seem most intriguing to me are the cement stairs, that capture something off base. I think if you’re a big fan of The Shining, you might love this piece, even though it falls a little short. Nonetheless, I am thrilled by the ambition of it and the ideas in it and look forward to seeing more work from O’Donnell. BTW, it took six months of hard labor to create it, O’Donnell said at the opening.

All in all, this is a great show, with our adoration of movies mixed with the magic of the lies they tell and the fantasies they weave.

There’s a gallery talk by movie fans/video artists/Screening Videos founders Matthew Suib and Nadia Hironaka tomorrow night, Thursday, June 26, at 7:30 p.m., followed by a screening of Stanley Kubrick‘s The Shining.

The show runs through July 12. Gallery hours Saturdays, 12 to 5 p.m., and by appointment,, 610.308.0579.