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A Whirl With Video Visions

'One Wall' Ranges From Works Revisiting Silver-Screen Icons to Ambient Pieces Offering a Place to Pause Before Moving On

March 19, 2001|KINNEY LITTLEFIELD | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

See Fred. See Fred dance. See Fred Astaire tap-dance and spin in circles like a cyclone--over and over again.

You'd think the late film legend would get desperately tired in Kevin Hanley's eye-blurring video "Recounting a Dancing Man," part of the ongoing "One Wall: A Video Series" at the Orange County Museum of Art.

Instead, Astaire's image keeps frantically tapping--making Hanley's work the most dizzying of the 10 videos you can see at various times now through Sept. 9 at the museum.

Curated by Christopher Miles, the "One Wall" series includes wide-ranging video work by eight Southern California artists: Hanley, collaborators Jennifer Steinkamp and Jimmy Johnson, Steve Roden, Micol Hebron, Enid Baxter Blader and collaborators Lynne Berman and Kathy Chenoweth.

Each month the series will feature a different video, screening continually during museum hours for three to four weeks. Some of the works are the video equivalent of abstract painting. Some resemble more conventional documentary or narrative film.

Steinkamp and Johnson's piece, "X-Ray Eyes," an exploration of illusion and abstraction, is on view now through April 8.

You can see Astaire dance April 10 through May 6.

"Video art can be a lot of things," Miles said of the diverse and not always eye-easy genre. "It demands more time than you spend in a museum looking at a painting. It can slow you down."

It can also be a drop-in, drop-out experience.

"Some of the work in the series--by Steinkamp, Roden, Hebron--is what's called ambient video," Miles said. "You can just come in and watch for a minute and then move on."

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While Hanley, 31, pays homage to a film icon, Hebron, 28, subverts a screen classic.

On view July 3-Aug. 5, Hebron's "Ruby Slippers" video dissects the perceptions and issues embedded in the 1939 gem "The Wizard of Oz."

Visually, "Slippers" revolves around the attempted transformation of ordinary shoes into magically powered footwear.

" 'The Wizard of Oz' is all about perceptions of power, beauty, ugliness and color," Miles said. "In 'Ruby Slippers,' that whole perception unravels and we start to look at the equations: how goodness is equated with beauty in 'The Wizard of Oz' and evil with ugliness. Micol also takes the boundary between real life and fictional experience to a somewhat comical level."

Most of the artists in the "One Wall" video series work in other media too, including painting, drawing, photography and performance art.

Hanley is also a photographer and installation artist. For him, the lure of creating "Recounting a Dancing Man" was motion.

"He does do quite a few turns," Hanley said of Astaire.

Hanley lifted Astaire's "I Want to Be a Dancing Man" sequence from the 1952 movie, "The Belle of New York," in which the sequence ran a mere five or six minutes. In his video, Hanley keeps Astaire hoofing for 90 minutes.

To set Astaire in motion, Hanley digitally transferred "Dancing Man" to computer software. Then he tweaked Astaire's taps with Hanley's own kind of hand jive, speeding or slowing the image by manipulating the computer's mouse.

"You could play him at several variations of speed and direction that is all determined by your hand," Hanley said. "Part of my intention with the video is that the viewer will see a sort of silly yet strange set of movements and velocities. It's almost like speed dialing.

"And the real-time correlation between the moving picture and the movement of my hand just really intrigued me."

SHOW TIMES

"One Wall: A Video Series," Orange County Museum of Art, 850 San Clemente Drive, Newport Beach. Tuesday-Sunday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. $4 to $5; children 15 and younger admitted free. (949) 759-1122. Through Sept. 9.

Works will be shown as follows:

Now-April 8: "X-Ray Eyes," by Jennifer Steinkamp and Jimmy Johnson.

April 10-May 6: "Recounting a Dancing Man," by Kevin Hanley.

May 8-June 3: "Book of Seconds" and "Cosmic Dancer," by Steve Roden.

June 5-July 1: "Work-Actions Video," by Lynne Berman and Kathy Chenoweth.

July 3-Aug. 5: "Ruby Slippers," by Micol Hebron.

Aug. 7-Sept. 9: "Sweetemo," "Wise Blood" and excerpts from "Blind Town" and "The Revival of Lee Mackey," by Enid Baxter Blader.

Each video will be shown continuously in the museum's Installation Gallery.

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