Saturday, January 21, 2012

Project Light

by Drew Martin
Projected and transmitted light plays an important part in two shows, a stone's throw apart, in the West Village. Uri Aran (at Gavin Brown) uses multiple video projections, a slide projector and one small, black and white Spectra television (pictured left - top) to display his content. David Lamelas (at Maccarone) projects light in a very different way. He uses old movie projectors - one of them points at the glass doors of the entrance to the gallery. The other one is turned in the opposite direction and projects a modest patch of light on a white wall - pure light (pictured left - bottom). It is as if the two artists were given the same class assignment to use projections of light in their work and each of them executed the concept with very different interpretations. Aran idles in front of his camera - listing "cuisines of the world" in one of his small rear-projections. In another similar rear-projection he describes ten soiled balls hammocked beneath his talking image. The detached Aran dunks a tea bag and fumbles with cookies in one of the larger wall projections. The television loops a scene of a mother and son snuggling while the mother strokes his hair. The carousel projector with 80-slides shows details of Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street with cookies. Cookies are a major theme here. They are childish doubloons and symbolize home as well as the crumbling fragility of boyhood. In one part of another large projection, which has a whole gallery room dedicated to it, Aran repeats "Look mom. Look at that." He says it in his adult voice but with the tone of a child who is desperate to get his mother's attention. Melancholic music and table-displays of scrappy, unsophisticated objects all work together to create a very troubled feeling of loss and insecurity. There is something very sad about Aran's installation...not depressing just he is waiting for his mother to come to him with tea and cookies and to clean up his mess in the gallery. Considering Aran's show next door, Lamelas' use of movie projectors is very poignant. While Aran seeks attention and projects something like a substitution of home movies, Lamelas projects the absence of them. There is no film, no image, just light. The projectors make their metallic ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta sounds, the light flutters and the extended arms, which would normally hold the film reels, seem pointless now, especially the rear arms, which spin effortlessly. The light hitting the glass front doors temporarily blinds the visitor and the light hitting the wall is without incident unless you pass by it, which would then cast your shadow on the wall in the frame of the lit rectangle.