Ben Jones: The Video

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Ben Jones, The Video

It seems pretty fitting that I’ve sat down to write about Ben Jones’ current exhibition at least three or four times.  The requisite online “research” always turned into episodes of Problem Solverz, Jones’ show on Cartoon Network, a trip down the wormhole of media-saturated content on Paper Rad, his collaborative with Jessica and Jacob Ciocci (including Rhizome and the New Museum’s recent archival of their website, http://www.paperrad.org and the accompanying exhibition, “Welcome to My Homey Page”), and a late night gchat where a friend excitedly offered to rip me his hard-to-find videos on DVD.

This is exactly the kind of intertextually meandering, visually anarchic, mentally overwhelming and massively entertaining experience that Jones is known for. Based on the gallery text and interviews that I read while trying to get a grip on his new material, Jones is trying—really—to simplify.

Ben Jones: The Video, at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Pacific Design Center through February 24th, includes plenty that will look familiar to those who have tripped in the Jones universe before.  Quasi-religious Gumby dolls, burning neon suns, loveable part man-dog-anteater Alfe; they’re all here.  But the mood of the show is quite different from his prior work. It’s hypnotic, reflective, and more than a little bit sinister.

Ben Jones, The Video video painting still, 2012

The exhibition has been described as a series of video installations and while, technically, that’s correct, it’s also more than that. Collectively, the works in the show function as an installation about making videos.  Unlike many of his fine art contemporaries, Jones is himself a manifestation of network age high-low plurality.  He runs a successful commercial animation practice, creating music videos for the likes of Beck and ...

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