Has a disused car park ever been put to better use? A 3D video installation of dancing trees set to a hypnotically repetitious dub soundtrack seems like the perfect marriage of venue and content to us!
Video art can be poorly served by galleries, often partitioned off in a corner of the room with people fumbling their way through darkened corridors and then clustering at the doorway unwilling (or unable) to fully commit to the experience. Here, however, the genre is given the starring role and a myriad of possibilities open up for the art form and our experience of it.
The Infinite Mix is a collaboration project between the Vinyl Factory and the Hayward Gallery located at The Store, a semi-derelict office building on The Strand. It’s a potent intersection of space, sound and screen where the diverse creative potential of audio-visual art is explored as never before. Footage is captured on 35mm, 3D cameras, iPhones, and drones, created with CGI animation or sourced from YouTube and experienced as single or multi-screen, holographic and 3D installations. Opera sits harmoniously alongside funk, dub, dancehall and hip hop, while poetry segues into text-to-voice synthesiser. We travel the streets of Compton, fly through exploding fireworks and venture into outer space, all the while negotiating the blurred boundaries of artifice and reality.
Each work is distinctly engaging, emotive and enjoyable and negotiating the derelict spaces in-between heightens the sense of exploration and anticipation. The stand out exhibit has to be Cyprien Gaillard’s Nightlife (2015) – in the car park. As we were handed 3D glasses we could already feel the dub beats emanating from the room beyond. Once inside, wind-blown trees unfurled their tentacle-like branches, reaching out and inviting us in. The footage was shot with a drone as we ascended above the Berlin stadium through exploding fireworks. The video closed on an oak tree beside a flyover and, looping back to the beginning, the opening shot positioned us beneath Rodin’s sculpture The Thinker in Cleveland Ohio.
Unexpected and Unforgettable
These seemingly incongruous motifs are thematically connected with historical racial inequality. The Nazi-built Berlin stadium is where Jesse Owens won in 1936 and the oak tree, as a sapling, was his prize. Rodin’s sculpture was bombed by a group connected to the Black Power movement in America and the looped accompanying soundtrack “I was born a loser”, is taken from Alton Ellis’s Black Man’s World. The work brilliantly conveys a poignant tension between the melancholic soundtrack and the joyous exuberance of the dancing trees. The effect, as with so many works in the show, is as unexpected as it is unforgettable.
The Infinite Mix is at The Store, 180 The Strand, London and continues until 11th December. Admission Free.