Monday, November 28, 2011


The opening for the video art series “Is This Thing On” at the Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center featured an iteration of the growing video phenom “BYOB” (Bring Your Own Beamer). This one-night event was a fitting introduction to the “Screen Test” video art exhibit located in the second floor galleries; and decidedly more stimulating.

The CAC’s lobby and downstairs were pulsing with flickering lights, buzzing and warm from dozens of projectors. Power cords snaked around the floor and passersby occasionally masked many of the low-lying projected images. For the sake of power and space considerations, these Bring Your Own Beamer (“beamer“ is European jive for projector) events are usually curated so one can’t literally show up with your own projector, find a spot on the wall and beam your work; although I admit initially thinking that and getting really psyched.

Some of the most impressive projected works utilized out-of-the way corners, columns, and other non-cinematic substrates. There were a few “old school” projectors representing: some effectively intimate slide projectors and even a well-kept 8mm projector. It would have been nice to see more artists pushing the notion of projected light and various technologies. Thinking of the Paul Catanese exhibition at Wright State’s Stein Galleries, where overhead projectors create a tactile alternative to time-based mechanisms.

I didn’t see any printed guide or labels, so I couldn’t match artists with their work with any certainty. I suppose one shouldn’t expect such detail in a guerilla-style, ephemeral event. However, I gleaned from the event’s Facebook page that many are past or present University of Cincinnati students, and website links are provided for most.

Upstairs, the “Is This Thing On” exhibition invited viewers to share a single bench while contemplating the early recorded performances of William Wegman, projected onto a two-story wall. I didn’t get a chance to experience all the video works being screened, as there was a nice crowd and very little seating. I’m looking forward to going back and viewing the exhibition during normal business hours.

DEPOSIT: Gallery and Museum directors take note: Ephemeral time-based work lends itself well to opening parties!


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