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By Rhizome

Vanessa Renwick, who produces video under the rubric of The Oregon Department of Kick Ass, is one of the cornerstones of Portland's remarkably fecund scene for moving-image art. Her video Portrait #2: Trojan (2006) documents the last days of the locally-maligned Trojan Nuclear Power Plant, which once rose like a toxic concrete toadstool above the lush temperate rainforests that cover the area's rolling landscape; at the video's end, the plant explodes under planned detonations, sending a quiet plume of smoke into the sky. The strange marriage Renwick chronicles between nature and technology is one familiar to the culture of the region, as captured in the Seattle Art Museum's current show "Thermostat: Video and the Pacific Northwest." In addition to Renwick's piece, Ron Tran's The Peckers (2004) records an experiment in which the artist covered electric guitars and drum kits with birdseed and set them in a park, then recorded the ensuing avian orchestra. Further north, Kevin Schmidt's Long Beach Led Zep (2002) depicts Schmidt on a beach in British Columbia, performing a rendition of "Stairway to Heaven" on a generator-powered electric guitar. The Canadian-American lineup rounds out with short works by Jeremy Shaw, Miranda July, Will Rogan, and Jack Daws. - Ed Halter

Image: Kevin Schmidt, Long Beach Led Zep, 2002

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