Alex Schmeling

I walk past “Video Mixer Group Exhibition” every time I go to my painting class at the School of Art, but as a perpetually late person I’ve never had the time to investigate closer. This week, though, I ducked into the gallery expecting to find just a few artsy videos with a couple of sculptures thrown in. But I soon realized I had drastically underestimated the video-making abilities of the Art School’s graduate students.

Just walking into the gallery is an experience. The lights are dimmed and the quiet audio of each screen creates a low murmuring throughout the space. The pieces span four rooms stretched out among three floors, with videos that cover topics as familiar as the role of social media in everyday life to niche explorations of human sexuality.

I was particularly drawn to the works that focused on isolating certain aspects inherent to the medium of film. For instance, one video had several long shots that seemed at first glance as if the frame had been frozen. In reality, the people on the screen were purposefully remaining extremely still, such that the only indicators of time were the movement of tree leaves in the background and the slight motion from the actors’ breathing.

Another piece involved shining light onto a glass cube dangling from the ceiling, creating abstract light that traveled slowly around the room. A second projector with a camera attached to it projected a real-time, miniature version of all this onto the wall. This interaction of light with the events of real life passing through video was beautiful and thought provoking.

Other highlights included a room lined with dark screens, one or two of which might have been playing a very dim video. Sound echoed around the space. The natural reflections I created simply by walking around provided an interesting perspective on movement and screens, in that I found it difficult to distinguish between pre-recorded moving images and my own wandering shape. In another work, two projectors, mounted on dangling fans that rotated sporadically, shone a video of someone dancing.

The video I was most drawn to was displayed in the lower level of the exhibition. A young woman looks into the camera for minute and is then physically flipped by two mostly unseen men. The camera moves with her as the men rotate her, so her face is always shown upright — the movement of her hair helps indicate how she is oriented in space. She never breaks eye contact with the camera, resulting in the eerie sense of her watching you watching her. I actually watched the video three times in a row, trying to figure out what I thought about it and what it could potentially be trying to say. Though I haven’t come to any concrete conclusions, I do know that I found it visually stunning and emotionally moving.

Although I enjoyed the aforementioned videos, there were parts of the exhibition that didn’t make much sense, to be honest. I would have appreciated signs with brief artist statements or explanations so that I could have better understood the pieces. I’m sure the creative choices were intentional and would have been interesting to know more about. But as the exhibition stood, several videos remained mysterious to me.

Overall, I would recommend visiting “Video Mixer Group Exhibition.” It can be seen in portions or as a whole, depending on how much time viewers wish to spend in the gallery. Expect some bafflement and confusion — but there’s more than enough aesthetically pleasing and thought provoking material to make it worth your while.