Perpetual Apocalypse

End-of-the-world scenarios have always been big in cinema, but 'Em/bedded,' a large-scale, calculatedly chaotic multimedia installation by artists Alan Sondheim and Leslie Thornton, makes Hollywood's imaginings look tame. The project combines Sondheim’s videos of morphing cyborgian bodies dancing or engaged in orgiastic sex with Thornton’s bloody images of war and her video exploration of the effects of new technologies and violence on our lives. Both are juxtaposed with relics of the past--photographs, book, souvenirs, old prints--that anticipate the decline and fall of language and civilization via technology. Em/bedded assaults the viewer with the images and sounds of an ongoing battle between love and death. Its multi-sensory information overload conveys visions of a futuristic, endlessly mutating Armageddon. Sondheim's laptop performance on the show's opening night, May 27, will feature his real-time written commentary (think improvisatory poetry by an Allen Ginsberg/Leonard Cohen hybrid) overlaid upon a montage of video, audio, and text fragments. Em/bedded will be on view at Santa Monica, California's Track 16 Gallery through June 24. - Marcia Tanner