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Humble Surveillence

By Rhizome

In its short history, video--the medium of surveillance and voyeurism--has been branded an epically controlling technology, breaking the world down into transmittable electric impulses and reassembling it in frigid, penetrating displays. Its ability to reduce experience to the grist of information would seem to shake the foundations of the real. But video appears more humble in new work by Boston-based artist Andrew Neumann, on view through May 12 at Bitforms gallery in Soeul, Korea. For example, in the two-channel work 'Wave/Phase' the artist shows a set of seascapes on four LCD panels. At first glance they could be a bank of security monitors, but mounted on a sheet of unfinished plywood, the alternating views of sea and sky create a check pattern that feels more like a vernacular work of folk art than an ominously surveilled coastline. The exhibition opened with a performance by the artist, who is also well-known as a designer of electronic musical instruments, and its his musician's sense of human-scale tinkering that comes through in the work. While video purports to dematerialize the world, Neumann treats it like material to be played with, simultaneously offering a cheeky parody of more menacing uses of the medium. - Bill Hanley

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