(Image courtesy of Postmasters gallery)
Between two recent solo exhibitions in New York, at The Whitney Museum of American Art and Postmasters gallery, the popular Jerusalem-born, Berlin-based artist Omer Fast presented three film installations in continued pursuit of his driving preoccupations: the fact/fiction dialectic that underlies film, and the resulting description of any tangible identification of “truth” as abstract.
Fast is known for a practice of importing subjects into culturally fraught scenarios appropriated from the past (Nazi-occupied Poland, colonial America), the present (Iraq) and, perhaps (in the case of the vaguely post-apocalyptic Whitney project), the future. It may seem contradictory to regard setting a film in the present a form of historical borrowing—whose time is this time but ours?—however, if anything is certain about Fast’s otherwise deliberately ambiguous system of filmmaking, it is that casting the setting is always a performative gesture; setting is setting into place and into time. Fast sets human elements into artificial contexts, and any temporal dissonance lacking between where his subjects come from and where they are put is made up for in the unbreachable gap that exists between the experience of being and of being recorded.
Fast’s show at Postmasters, his third since 2002, includes two videos, De Grote Boodschap (2007, 27 min.)—translated literally from the Flemish as “the great message”—and Take a Deep Breath (2008, 27 min.). Neither employs ostensible documentary techniques, in fact their scripts are weighted by a density of plotty clues and keys smuggled in prosaic lines; lines nested in average characters; characters staged in ordinary scenes; scenes camouflaged in a purposefully nondescript aesthetic. The gestalt is a conspicuous banality. To capitalize on this configuration, Fast crafts a suspense that never sags nor hurries, and in ...
Very Slow Scan Television (VSSTV) is a new television format that we have developed building upon Slow Scan Television (SSTV), an image transmission system used by Ham Radio amateurs. VSSTV uses broadcasts from this historic public domain television system and regular bubble wrap to construct an analogous system: Just as a Cathode Ray Tube mixes the three primary colors to create various hues, VSSTV utilizes a plotter-like machine to fill the individual bubbles with one of the three primary CRT colors, turning them into pixels on the VSSTV “screen”. Large television images with a frame rate of one per day are the result, images that take the idea of slow scan to the extreme.
Amazing device that gives voice to musical instruments. The Sonovox consists of one or two louspeakers placed on the throat that play the source sound. The performer whispers the words while the speakers stand in for the voice box. Used for the talking train in Disney's Dumbo, uncountable radio promos, a tube-in-the-mouth version "Talk Box" was used by Frampton to make his guitar sing, and all-electronic "Vocoder" versions are still used in current pop music.
Further examining the medium of film itself, Colorfilm is a work Lawder made while trying to make a minimalist, "pure color" film. Using spliced-together strips of colored film leader in white, yellow, blue, red, green, etc., Lawder ran the film through a projector and found the results to be quite boring. While he was running the film, though, he noticed how beautiful the colored strips of film looked as they ran through the projector. So, he turned a camera on the projector and filmed the colored film gorgeously winding its way through the projector's machinery." - Noel Black, Colorado Springs Independent
Music by The Mothers of Invention.
Digital Arts and New Media (DANM) Technical Coordinator