Christopher Miles on Gregory Kucera. (First Take)

Artforum International, January 2003 | Go to article overview

Christopher Miles on Gregory Kucera. (First Take)


WHEN I FIRST MET GREGORY KUCERA, HE HAD recently returned to Los Angeles from a stint in Prague working on Czech TV commercials and was earning his MFA at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, covering tuition by doing freelance video production. I was organizing a video show, under deadlines, and I needed technical support. That was all I wanted of him. It seemed like a situation best handled with the just-fix-my-car-and-let's-not-get-too-familiar attitude, as I knew I'd be making several visits to his studio and I feared it was only a matter of time before he'd ask me to look at his work. But in conversations we had while waiting for files to load and discs to burn, I realized that Kucera's keyboard wizardry and buzzing equipment played second fiddle to a keen intellect interested in overlapping questions about duration, simultaneity, location, motion, point of view, and perspective, and in how shifting these factors might influence spatiotemporal perception, experiential comprehension, memory organizat ion, and the construction/conception of self. It was only a matter of time before I started asking to see his work.

What hooked me was Living, 2001, a video in which the image of the artist multiplies and his various selves communally hang out, share consolation, exchange advice, bicker, redecorate, clean house, goof off, lie around naked, and play with power tools. Occasionally, Kucera's selves fade in and out, or into one another, or jerk/skip as if they've hit a glitch--effects, be they deliberate or happily accidental, that slyly implicate imaging and its means in the formulation of identity and leave you considering the merging and splitting, unfolding and enfolding, as well as doubting and delusion, involved in grappling with the self. What kept me hooked was Tina: Spatiotemporal Reconstruction #2, 2001, for which Kucera enlisted an actress to perform one end of an emotionally charged telephone conversation shot in numerous takes in four different locations. Kucera spliced together snippets of each to reconstruct the conversation, producing a continuous video narrative just jittery enough to confirm that the singular moment is in fact the product of multiple or parallel experiences, records, recollections. …

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