21 SEPTEMBER - 28 OCTOBER 2001
“One saw; the other saw was made in response to the large expanse of windows looking into the gallery. The piece is about looking, and shifting perspectives. The artwork responds to the viewer’s point of view by shifting as one walks by. The work is intentionally playful, it creates an experience where complex ideas about perception can be enjoyed on a playful level.”
- Jennifer Steinkamp
Artist Jennifer Steinkamp and composer Jimmy Johnson’s one saw; the other saw blurs the boundaries between the virtual and the real. Steinkamp used advanced computer software to generate animated images which are projected onto a screen fitted to the center panel of the gallery’s front glass wall. A projector at the rear of the specially constructed tunnel is linked to Steinkamp’s computer. Because the screen at the front of the gallery is translucent, the projected images can be seen from both the interior and the exterior of the gallery space. The projected images are abstract, but their geometrical forms suggest a virtual continuation of the actual tunnel built in the gallery. “I use light to dematerialize architecture,” Steinkamp observes, and indeed the flood of moving, colorful light renders the physical qualities of the glass panel and translucent screen difficult to discern.
Sensitive to both the architecture of the building and the dynamic presence of visitors, one saw; the other saw is fundamentally site-specific. Visitor participation is an integral part of the installation. The moving shapes of visitors in the tunnel interrupt the otherwise intensely luminous plane of colors with dark silhouettes of human forms. The interactivity of the piece is heightened by the placement of motion sensors in the tunnel and gallery foyer which cause both the visual and the audio components of the piece to respond to the movements of passersby. Detection of movement by the sensors causes the projected image to change such that the abstract geometric form appears as if viewed from different perspectives. Though the image remains trained on the plane of the screen, these seeming shifts of perspective can create a disorienting, vertiginous effect. Triggering of the sensors also causes speakers mounted in the ceiling to emit bursts of electronic sound in a range of tones.
The visual and audio components of the installation work together to create an engrossing total environment. The eerie, cavernously deep tones of Jimmy Johnson’s musical composition play continuously, adding to the mesmerizing pull of the moving images. “The soundtrack creates a sonic dimension to the space,” Steinkamp observes, “The physical space is transformed by the audio.”
Flutter Flutter, an earlier work by Steinkamp in the small gallery, appears bewitchingly simple at first glance but like one saw; the other saw, it initiates a sophisticated play with perceptual processes. A small, faintly quivering grid of white light is projected in the corner of the room. The grid seems to shift between one-point and two-point perspective, such that viewers walking around the piece perceive the transformation of the grid “as if the non-physical projection had physical substance,” Steinkamp notes.
One saw; the other saw, 2001 appears courtesy of Jennifer Steinkamp, Jimmy Johnson, and ACME., Los Angeles. Flutter Flutter, 1996 appears courtesy of Jennifer Steinkamp and ACME., Los Angeles.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Jennifer Steinkamp is Adjunct Assistant Professor of Design|Media Arts at UCLA. Her work is in the permanent collection of several museums including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles and the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. Steinkamp’s work has appeared in numerous one-person shows as well as many international group exhibitions, including Beau Monde, Towards a Redeemed Cosmopolitanism, the 2001 SITE Santa Fe Biennial;Media/Metaphor, the 2000 Corcoran Gallery of Art Biennial; and the 1997 Venice Biennale.
Jimmy Johnson is a composer who also works in the fields of music and sound production, remixing, design, and editing. Johnson performs and records with the electronic group Grain, which has released numerous recordings on the labels Fragrant, Moonshine, and Astralwerks.