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By Rhizome

There is a lot of art out there that cobbles together timely social critique from classic video game and web imagery. But Michael Bell-Smith's videos, with their stylized colors, mini narratives, and figurative elements, have more in common with traditional painting than nostalgic digital bricolage. The artist's first solo show, entitled 'Focus Forward,' is now up at New York's Foxy Production Gallery, and the work on view typifies his painterly style. Displayed on an all-black version of a Pac-Man cocktail table, his figurative work, 'Birds Over the Whitehouse,' features colored blips circulating over a maze-like schematic of the famous home. The piece crafts the classic arcade console into an allegory for terrorist threats and the unreality of contemporary warfare. In 'Continue 2000,' Bell-Smith creates a video game-style cartoon apocalypse and uses it to channel the sublime awe of a Romantic painting into a critique of the fear and spectacle of modern disasters. The exhibition runs through May 27th, but if a trip to New York is impossible, each video can be viewed in its entirety on the gallery's website. - Bill Hanley

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