Popular culture has been molded by television and electronic graphic information since the mid-20th century. Whether appearing on a TV console, computer monitor, or smart device, video has become a comfortable, accessible, and preferred medium for both consumption and creation, especially to those among us under 30. Many critics today consider it to be this generation’s quintessential format for expression. Camera Lucida features eight contemporary artists from around the world who work with video and digital moving imagery. Artists Jay Bolotin, Rob Carter, Joe Hamilton, Yeon Jin Kim, LigoranoReese, Jillian Mayer, Rosa Menkman, and Rick Silva offer fresh perspectives on enduring concerns and new issues, using a technology that is widely familiar through common exposure, if not as broadly known as an independent art form. Yet video has been used as an eloquent and powerful vehicle by artists for more than 50 years, ranging from early documentary formats and narrative expositions to digital abstraction and game-playing interaction. JCSM’s survey provides a compelling look at the state of the medium today, where age-old intentions find new purpose in new applications.

This exhibition has been made possible by grants from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

While all of the eight artists featured in Camera Lucida apply advanced processes in widely different ways, some draw significant inspiration from older, pre-electronic technologies to craft their moving picture art. Early filmmakers, as far back as the mid-1800s, created dynamic effects using stop motion animation, miniatures, and painted matte backgrounds. Even today amid eye-popping CGI digital treatments, such mechanical techniques involving clay model animation and puppetry are still effective and popular. Camera Lucida artist Yeon Jin Kim stages narrative videos amid miniature sets of hand-drawn and collage components, with moving scrolls that measure hundreds of feet in length. Tiny, marionette-like protagonists are manipulated through the sets via monofilament lines, with no effort made to hide their low-tech mechanisms. Kim’s charged atmospheres derive in large part from their peculiar settings and eerie plots, but equally through a viewer’s dawning realization that the entire video is shot in one continuous take. The elemental risk of missteps inherent in “live” performance invigorates her work and adds to our appreciation of their inventiveness.

This video contains an excerpt from the Zoonomia, 2015

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