New Work @ Plains Art Museum

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From January 9 – April 6, you can see some of my work at the Plains Art Museum in an exhibition featuring the work of emerging artists in Fargo-Moorhead.

My entry for the exhibition, titled Ambient Cinema, offers a new way to watch Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1972 film, Solaris, that highlights contemporary entertainment technologies and their often invisible interfaces:

Ambient Cinema is an attempt to draw spectators into the hidden, noisy lives of the entertainment technologies surrounding contemporary humans. On the surface, we are presented with increasingly sleek, shiny, and refined technological artifacts, promised as “new and improved” ways to work, play, communicate, and live. Yet just below the surfaces of glass and brushed aluminum and “intuitive” interfaces, these systems are in fact full of noise, malfunction, and error. In an effort to disrupt the technoUtopian illusion of Western Progress, this installation employs induction coil pickup microphones (once used primarily as telephone surveillance devices) to sonify electromagnetic energy from familiar technologies, and images that illustrate the brokenness of data we often consider to be stable and functional. On one screen, a physically damaged television, plays Andrei Tarkovsky’s critically-acclaimed 1972 film Solaris, a work known for its beautiful visual composition. On the other screen, you see a corrupted–or datamoshed–scene from the film. The film’s “soundtrack,” as heard through the headphones, is comprised solely of the electromagnetic energy created by the entertainment technologies in the installation.

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Kris Kerzman of The Arts Partnership wrote a piece for the Fargo Forum on the exhibition, including some comments from our conversation:

Artist Steven Hammer said he hopes his entry in a new Plains Art Museum exhibition, a multimedia installation entitled “Ambient Movie,” is “a bit unnerving.”

For the installation, Hammer has two televisions showing the 1972 Andrei Tarkovsky film “Solaris.” One television was dropped at one point and has a broken screen, which renders the film into distorted colored lines. The other television shows a “datamosh” version of the film, meaning the code comprising the video file has been purposely altered to the point where it “glitches.”

Meanwhile, induction coil pickup microphones read electronic activity from within the televisions and spit out noisy static.

“I hope it’s a weird experience for people,” Hammer adds, “and I hope somebody says, ‘Is this art?’ That’s a valuable question.”

In all, it’s been really enjoyable to see some work of other artists in the community working with various concepts, media, and approaches. I hope some of you can make it out to see the exhibition.

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