Audi hosts private preview of “Dreamlands: Immersive Cinema and Art, 1905–2016” at the Whitney Museum in NYC. We offer a review of the groundbreaking show sponsored by Audi.
In a mid 2015 piece, I predicted that the “final form” for art would be things that require the human presence to view correctly. They would be things designed to be immersive, not to be replicated, unavailable away from the designated space, intended to be not photographed by virtue of their hamstringing tenants of being a moving image and an asserted copyright policy. Sure enough, or perhaps nonetheless, the Whitney has mounted “Dreamlands: Immersive Cinema and Art, 1905–2016” or in the shorthand, simply “Dreamlands”. The show by its title is at once something of a mourning. Maybe I’m wrong and Instagram really did kill moving works, in both the reactive and practical definitions of the phrase.
Regardless, with “Dreamlands” the Whitney finally assumes the role as the 400-million-dollar funhouse it was intended to be, or more theatrically, the stage it was meant to be. The exhibition fills the Museum’s 18,000-square-foot fifth-floor galleries, as well as a film series in the third-floor theater. Immediate demonstration: walking through a light sculpture made by the projector beam in Anthony McCall’s “Line Describing a Cone”. To understand film here is to forego sitting. You must proceed through these films. It’s an exploded view that even the more ambitious film museums fail to achieve. It’s not their fault they’re filled with rows of cushy seats- the Whitney just has the space to literally play around with the concept, resulting in works like Jud Yalkut’s “Destruct Film” (1967), in which “viewers” wade in celluloid up to the ankles while images flicker around.
It is this radical reconsideration that reveals two things: 1) this kind of film requires a serious extension of present understanding of film and what the potentials are. It should challenge young filmmakers to explore place and setting, not just in their actual films. The mass market has tried it- 3D films and films where the viewer might recline, smell, with moving chairs and even water features. “Dreamlands” handles these sensual delicacies with care; never to overpower or assault. 2) These are American artists. This innovation and thought and vision for what film can be is entirely of the American mind.
It’s curious the Whitney should be launching such a show in light of Twitter-owned Vine shutting down. In a fascinating twist in what the pleasure of art and the reality of capitalism might intersect. Vine, famous for it’s 6-second videos which lilted toward creative and fun moved the moving image in a new direction, allowing content creation to be immediate and brief. Vine was also small. It happened on iPhones held in hands, resorting to creativity to create a handsfree recording. Dreamlands is the reverse. It is film blown to new proportion. Ben Coonley’s 3D 360-degree video “Trading Futures” projects in a geodesic dome.
It is the vision of sending yourself into what could not be imagined otherwise – visualizing the performative: using the internet, what does that look like? Trading the intangible, what does that feel like? Viewers are now inhaling the scent of oranges in “Easternsports” (2014) by Alex Da Corte and Jayson Musson. When was this film?
Dreamlands is the responsibility of curator Chrissie Iles, who sought to simply bring film to its knees only to build it up again, reimagining the existing as a holistic process while suggesting new potentials.
Dreamlands: Immersive Cinema and Art, 1905–2016 is sponsored by Audi and runs OCT 28, 2016–
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