Saturday, November 7, 2009

Katja Loher at Anya Tish

Without knowing what this show was about (I was over at 4411 Montrose to see another show), I popped in just to see what was up at Anya Tish. I was knocked out by Katja Loher's playful interactive art. All the art involves spherical shaped objects and video (kind of a weird combination, when you think about it). Three of the pieces on the show rest on pedestals and the other two hang from the ceiling. One of the ceiling hangers involves a rather elaborate installation. There is a large hanging sphere, illuminated from the inside. When you walk into the gallery and look at it, you can see vague moving shapes, but are not sure what they are.

In another part of the gallery is a door with a peephole. When you look in the peephole, you see nothing--just inky blackness.

These two elements are actually one piece--"Peephole" (2006). I'm sorry I don't have any photos of this--I tried my best. But I think I can describe it. When you look in the peephole, what you are really looking at is the fisheye lens of a video camera. The image it is capturing is your own distorted face (and when you are not standing by the peephole, it is capturing an image of the entire gallery--grotesquely distorted, of course). This image is projected seemingly on the inside of the hanging sphere. So it becomes doubly distorted. (I'm pretty sure it is actually projected on the outside of the sphere, but I couldn't see the projector.)

Of course, one can't but imagine that this is the home security system of some James Bond villain. Bond (or the mailman) comes up to the front door, rings the bell, tries to peek through the peephole, sees nothing, then leaves. Meanwhile, in a high-tech lair, the villain is watching this unfold from his hanging security sphere.

The spheres on pedestals are called "Miniverses." A good name--each one is an acrylic sphere with holes in it--you look in the holes and see little videos. But the sheres with holes look like some of the depictions of space-time one sometimes sees in popular science articles.

Katja Loher, Miniverse #3/Where is the Center of the Sea?, transparent acrylic and one video screen, 2009

Miniverse #4
Katja Loher, Miniverse #4/Sculpting in Time, black acrylic and one video screen, 2009

 Each of these Miniverses has a single video image which can be seen by looking through holes into them. The white miniverse has six videos.

Miniverse #2
Katja Loher, Miniverse #2/Is There No More Spring?, white acrylic and six video screens, 2008

But these are three-dimensional pieces with video--they exist in time and space, so a flat photographic image doesn't do them justice. But this might help:

Katja Loher, Miniverse #2/Is There No More Spring?, white acrylic and six video screens, 2008

Finally, Videoplanet hangs high in the back of the gallery, with projected images on it.

Katja Loher, Videoplanet, video projection onto a weather balloon, 2009

The video itself at first looks like abstract kalaidescopic patterns, but as you watch, you come to realize that they are actually choreographed people, filmed from above, not unlike certain Hollywood musicals from the 1930s.

I can't imagine what these pieces mean, if anything. But they are terrifically enjoyable to experience.

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