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If you position yourself anywhere near the 80-foot tall, multi-screen marquee outside the Boston Convention Center in the Seaport “Innovation District”, you can experience the thrill and vertigo of Madeleine Altmann’s video “Crystal Lake”. Over 3,000 square feet of digital display on seven screens will envelope you in her underwater swirl of bubbles and spray, divers plunging and erupting (often upside down) from rolling surface swells, both forward and backward in time, in a multi-layered, flowing video loop. It is spellbinding.
But for a fully absorbing effect, go to 555 Gallery a few blocks away, where “Crystal Lake” and ten more of Altmann’s mesmerizing videos are on display through December 12, 2015. Most of Altmann’s pieces are single stream, but she takes an innovative approach to her presentations, with an imposing pyramid of (vintage recycled) video monitors in one work, and a series of vertical, horizontal and grid matrices in other installations around the gallery. Altmann’s inventive displays capitalize on her stunning, melodic imagery.
A recurring vantage point in Altmann’s work is a view from below the water’s surface, delivering a recognizable but brilliantly altered sense of space and time. Through a wavy pond surface or the cracked, bubbly ice of a frozen lake, we view mundane activities, such as a solitary hiker or wandering dog, anew. In others, the belvedere is from above, capturing the rhythmic lapping of waves at the water’s edge or the eternal flow of a waterfall (above), in multiples that are serenely hypnotic. We are swept into a world that offers unique interpretations of the comforting and familiar. Altmann’s layered narratives are magical, achieving a voice that is at once enthralling and calming.
Works of photography, painting and screen printing by six other artists are interspersed with Altmann’s videos, creating a mellifluous, multi-media exhibit. Mike Sleeper’s archival pigment prints from B&W film are luminous, meditative studies of the water’s edge (above). Jim Nickelson’s hushed, lunar-lit nighttime studies of earth and sky are lulling. His round-in-square format is suggestive of the moon or a telescopic view. Suzette Bross creates arrays of rectangular smartphone images, capturing her feet and the ground in stop-action, 1-3 minute “walks”. The staccato rhythm of individual shots meld into an overall flow of color and line, contrasting the technically driven segmentation of our daily lives with the fluidity of our life experiences.
Lia Rothstein presents “Subsurface” a series of six B&W archival pigment prints of underwater flora in combination with encaustic wax, handmade papers, and galvanized steel cut-outs, illuminated from behind with LED lights arranged in wavelike formation. The interplay of geometric and plant forms, tonalities and translucency, form complex but meditative pieces that can be appreciated separately or as a whole. The linear sectioning in Joe Caruso’s large, abstract, oil-based painting echo Altmann’s nearby pyramid video and incorporate textural elements such as sand and quartz into “The Silver Morning“. Dorothea Van Camp’s lyrical diptych “Entangled 7” utilizes oils and waxes on her screen-prints, to elegant effect.
Moving or still, all of the works in the gallery have harnessed the feeling of flow. Pulsing with the ebb and flux of the natural world, this creatively conceived and superbly integrated exhibit offers a well-timed escape from the building frenzy of the holiday season.
For more information about this exhibit, go to: http://www.555gallery.com/exhibitions/#/spellbound-a-world-in-flux/
To learn more about “Art on the Marquee” at the Boston Convention Center, go to: http://www.artonthemarquee.com/
Feature image: Video still from “Crystal Lake, 2015” by Madeleine Altmann (courtesy of the artist and 555 Gallery, Boston).