"Car" by Dylan Vitone at dnj Gallery. (dnj Gallery )
Dylan Vitone practices cultural anthropology with a camera, astutely observing human behavior in a range of environments. Selections from two recent series at dnj focus on tourists at Yellowstone and punk pilgrims at a skater mecca in Ohio.
To Vitone, who teaches at Carnegie Mellon, the spectacle of life plays out with equal beauty, drama and interest no matter the setting. His pictures grant us access to situations we might never experience directly, but also show us the familiar with an acuity that renders it newly strange.
Vitone works in a panoramic format, stitching color images together to create sweeping, broadly encompassing views. Seams are sometimes visible but not disruptive, and the prints, 17 inches high and often more than 90 inches wide, read as continuous filmic pans, dense with texture and information.
In one of the pictures from Skatopia, a young man sits atop an overturned car, smoking leisurely, while another fuels flames underneath it and pierced, tattooed onlookers record the scene on their phones.
In what amounts to a sister image from Yellowstone, families abandon their RVs and minivans to snap pictures of a bear in the grass on the side of the road. Both images capture the fundamental human reflex to marvel and gawk at the anomalous.
What also emerges from this pair, and the show as a whole, is Vitone's subtle commentary about how naturally the skaters behave in their contrived playground, yet how awkward the tourists appear within true wilderness.
dnj Gallery, Bergamot Station, 2525 Michigan Ave., SuiteJ1, Santa Monica, (310) 315-3551, through Feb. 23. Closed Sunday and Monday. www.dnjgallery.net
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