Friday, May 25, 2018

Video, Viewer, and Violence

Dominik Lejman, Yo Lo Vi, 2007

Polish artist Dominik Lejman incorporates viewer interactivity into his paintings in a way that recalls video art of the early seventies, notably Dan Graham's. In Lejman's piece, Yo Lo Vi, 2007, for example, the artist projects a delayed image of the viewer over a painting with a reflective surface. The painting depicts a male figure whose hands are tied behind his back and whose head is hidden by a white cover that appears half dunce cap, half torture hood. Torture is the main connotation though, given not only the man's bound hands, but also the foreboding, shadow background. Therefore, the viewer, cast without permission in this macabre scene, is impliedly complicit in a violent act. A discomforting placement for sure, and it's a placement that recalls Dan Graham's early video experiments in surveillance and time delay, notably the eponymous Opposing Mirrors and Video Monitors on Time Delay, 1974/1993. In this piece the audience is videotaped, their recording appearing on a monitor visible in a mirror as it looked a few seconds before their real time mirror image. However, unlike the time delay in Graham's video, which according to the artist was meant to create a time warp that had a psychedelic drug-like effect on the viewer, Lejman's hesitant response bends reality to reveal its dark, violent undercurrents. Accordingly, Lejman highlights a universal human capacity for violence, and as viewers, we're part of it, like it or not.

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