Among the richest experimental practices of the '60s and '70s was Expanded Cinema, in which technology was seen to offer new possibilities for integrating art and life. From Robert Whitman to Alix Pearlstein and Trisha Baga, the vein has been fruitfully mined. "Cinematic Scope" gathers six artists in their 30s and 40s from Germany, Austria and ex-Yugoslavia whose practices are "expanding" media in the 21st century.
A small, high reception area provides the site of Björn Kammerer's Remote (2013). At the center of the space is a tall tripod that supports a slowly rotating 16mm projector; this throws off an image of a bicyclist circling the walls near the ceiling. The scenery is a flat continuum along a seafront, perhaps the artist's native Stralsund, on the Baltic coast of Germany. The bicyclist offers a companionable presence, and visitors follow his movement along with, through the window, that of actual passersby on the street, which becomes cinematic by extension.
Among the most visually striking works in the downstairs galleries is a piece by the Viennese artist Manuel Knapp. LightX (2013) is a high-definition computer animation projected onto two black, wall-mounted panels separated by a narrow gap. Entirely abstract, it consists of random chinks of light that open and close, spread and flicker, across the panels and gap, expressing a restless, mysterious space unfathomable in its contours.
Clacking away in the adjacent space are the three 16mm projectors of Wolfgang Plöger's Texas Loud, Texas Proud (2013). Onto blank film, the Berlin-based Plöger screenprinted the final words of Texas inmates as they prepared for execution. One easily reads the upper-case texts on the actual film strips as they feed into the machines, but their projections are illegible abstractions. There is a real poignancy to the dissolution of phrases like "This is wrong. This whole thing is wrong," or "I am strapped down for something Marcus Rhodes did." Are we meant to discern a subtext of futility? Or does the seductive apparatus amount to a questionable estheticization of a horrible situation?
The Slovenian Tobias Putrih, who lives in Cambridge, Mass., contributes a tall, bulky inverted wooden pyramid painted black and hung from the ceiling, which relays the tiny image of a concealed, spinning fan onto a spoon below (Pre-Projection, 2008). It is an amusing, almost cartoonish imbalance. A trio of monitors suspended in the middle of the room screen a three-channel video by the Austrian Andreas Fogarasi about a cultural complex near Santiago, Spain, abandoned in the wake of the nation's financial collapse (Constructing/Dismantling, 2010). Especially sad is the forward-and-reverse loop of street-sweepers erasing (and reconstituting) the year "2010," spelled out in pitifully optimistic red flowers.
The most pleasurably peculiar work is a two-channel video installation by David Maljkovi�?. In murky black-and-white on one large and one small screen we see elderly retirees of a Peugeot factory in France pushing futuristic car prototypes around a test track, being interviewed and dancing. It could be an early TV sci-fi show like "The Outer Limits," or some old news program about an erstwhile Utopian community. That feeling of invented worlds hinging on the real, widespread in art today, is especially suggestive in the hands of this Zagreb-based artist, who undoubtedly retains memories from his youth of the failed Communist project.
PHOTO: David Maljkovic: Out of Projection, 2009, two-channel video installation, approx. 19 minutes; in "Cinematic Scope" at Georg Kargl.