Magazine article Artforum International

1000 Words: Angela Bulloch; Talks about Group of Seven (One Absent Friend), 2005

Magazine article Artforum International

1000 Words: Angela Bulloch; Talks about Group of Seven (One Absent Friend), 2005

Article excerpt

FROM THE POINTEDLY economical gestures with which she began her career--lamps dimming or brightening in the viewer's presence (Before and After Follow Each Other, 1990); recordings of applause or jeers triggered by visitors' movements (as in Laughing Crowd Sound Piece, 1990)--to the polyphonic, multihued blend of geometric structures and son et lumiere in which she specializes today, Angela Bulloch has progressively deepened a practice fascinated with ordering systems and the subjective processing of information. Inflecting the stringent aesthetics of Conceptualism and Minimalism with destabilizing elements such as narrative, theatricality, and sensuality (and drawing modernist insularity ever closer to the spheres of contemporary design and entertainment), the Canadian-born, Berlin-based artist's work habitually underscores and problematizes normative structures.

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Since the beginning of the decade, Bulloch's cornerstone has been her "Pixel Boxes"--modular cubes, named for the screen-based visual building block, whose display systems can reproduce nearly seventeen million different colors. The artist has previously arranged these objects in groups to replay scenes from landmark movies, processing them via algorithms into pulsing painterly abstractions that privilege cinematic narrative even while making it indecipherable. But in Bulloch's recent suite Group of Seven (One Absent Friend), 2005, which debuted as the centerpiece of her solo show at the Secession in Vienna last year, these changeable beacons are stitched into a sort of multifarious, open-ended orchestration. Polyreferential, life-size videos of performers combine with architectural-cum-display elements, social research materials, and a theatricalized venue to bring Bulloch's signature inter-penetration of categories to newfound levels of complexity.

THE HUMAN FIGURE is generally implied in my work, but having spent several years manipulating televisual sources in the context of my "Pixel Boxes," I wanted to include a recognizable representation of the body this time. Group of Seven features different types of video documentation, moving images of characters that "haunt" the exhibition. Each of three performers, Frank, Yuko, and Daniel, appears alone in square-format videos that are projected on the sides of pixel boxes, on the walls, or on both at once, so the image is fractured. Video monitors around the space also display performances in which you see only their silhouettes. And, finally, running through three groups of pixel boxes is an animated program I designed; there is no representational image there, only pulsing color. Previously I've arranged such boxes together to form a wall, referencing a cinema screen. But in this case I've used pixel boxes of various sizes, which are scattered around the room. As in my earlier furniture-based works, the idea of moving among these objects and measuring them with one's own body is important, but here I played with a different conception of scale and proximity. You can actually walk through a door into the larger pixel boxes. You can't take the installation in all at once.

I deliberately chose three distinct types of performer and gave each one briefing notes in the form of images that provided him or her with different starting points. Frank, who's an actor, began with a Paul Thek piece, The Tomb, 1967; I asked him to do his own interpretation of the dead hippie in that piece. …

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