Carol Flax summons up numbing repetitions of imagery and words in her computer-created ink-jet prints. In her most effective pieces, this visual static suggests the gap between the complexity and rawness of real-life emotions and the simple-minded media messages that stereotype aspects of family life or teen-age rebellion.
Joyce Niemanas' large multiple-image silver gelatin prints are hard to get a handle on, but they seem to be about the way media culture creates its own heroes and heroines and tends to see literary and artistic heroes of the past simply as grist for the mill of lowest-common-denominator taste. In Niemanas' "The Copy," a see-through silhouette of Michelangelo's "David" is ignobly made to appear as though it holds popcorn.
The exhibit also includes four videos, which visitors can ask to see. Chip Lord's "Not Top Gun" is billed as a critique of the militaristic values in the movie; it juxtaposes facts about American military spending with images from the "Top Gun" music video.
"Political Advertisements," by Antonio Muntadas and Marshall Reese, is a compilation of selected TV political commercials made for the 1988 Presidential election, allowing the viewer to assess how Madison Avenue changed its approach as the nature of the campaign shifted.
Jason Simon's "Production Notes: Fast Food for Thought" zips through seven TV commercials, beginning with a 60-second McDonald's spot set in a high school, and then (with the cost of the ad superimposed on the screen) takes the listener through the ad agency's blow-by-blow description of the relevance and meaning of each scene. The video is needlessly repetitious, but it does present a chilling look at all the calculation that goes into insidiously cheerful, low-key commercials.
Judith Williamson, the social critic mentioned previously, took a trip to a Target store for her video, "Judith Williamson Consumes Passionately in Southern California." She is a better writer than video maker or performer (the piece is overlong and fairly choppy, and she seems shy and nervous), but her analysis is keen. Beginning with "The Advertisement"--a Burlington sock ad--she muses on the absurdity of our "multiplicity of products and functions" that requires industry to dream up new consumer needs.
Williamson notes that these needs are "all centered on the body," which capitalism examines piece by piece in its search for new areas to "colonize." She says the illusion of a vast array of products that are markedly different from one another--such as the row upon row of socks at the Target store--are substitutes for our inability to assimilate \o7 real \f7 differences, such as those of race or culture.
Whether you agree or disagree, this is provocative material relevant to our lives--and not at all what you'd expect to see at a bank!
\o7 "Media Talk" will be on view through Oct. 29 at Security Pacific Gallery, 555 Anton Blvd., Costa Mesa. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Admission is free, and the gallery will validate parking. Information: (714) 433-6001. \f7