sunnudagur, febrúar 05, 2006

listasafn íslands

Today I spent some time at the National Gallery, tucked in a modern white building along one side of the Pond in the middle of town. The most striking exhibit was one by Ragnar Helgi Ólofsson, situated in a large room a half-flight of stairs down from the entrance. The first thing I noticed when I entered the space was that I was reflected on the white wall in front of me, as though I was looking at a giant mirror of the room. As I walked toward the wall, my double walked toward me. An image of the whole empty room was mirrored on the wall. There was nothing in the room except a place for people to stand. A camera was capturing what was going on in the room and a projector recreating it exactly on one wall.

As I moved around in the room, watching myself, other people also appeared on the wall. They were other exhibit guests from the past. Some were dancing, some were strolling around like me, some were jumping at the camera. They faded in for a few seconds at a time, then faded out. There was a huge crowd, with a woman being pushed in a wheelchair, that would blink into existence at the back of the room. After spending a few minutes in there, I saw an image of myself entering the room, pausing, then walking up to the screen. I could see two of me, and sometimes three of me.

After seeing the rest of the installations, I came back to play with the room again. I did some hip-hop dancing, some walking in circles, and succumbed to the seemingly universal compulsion to run straight at the camera and become huge on the screen. I learned that if I stayed very still, the wall would stop showing other people. It was movement that triggered movement. By walking or moving, and then standing stationary for 30 seconds or so, I could get a copy of myself to walk in the same way and join me in my body. As I moved around, the wall would show others dancing, running, standing in place, adults and kids alike. I had no idea how long ago they had been there, or who they were, but after seeing the same people a few times I felt like I knew them just a little bit.


Anonymous Nafnlaus said...

Wow! This must be a fabulous show! It sounds like a lot of the shows, the MIT List Visual Arts Center has.
I love those contemporary interactive installations!

Did you ever get a chance to visit the List Gallery when you were at MIT?

Blogger JB said...

Yep, I went there a few times and always saw interesting stuff. Hey, I wonder if that's why they call it the "list" center? :-)


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