Posts Tagged ‘Asimovian’

Love in the Time of Robots

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

Adam Shecter‘s third solo show at Eleven Rivington is an ambitious, animated, science-fiction video called New Year.  The 26-minute, three-channel, panorama spans the entire gallery wall and features hand-drawn and 3D animation, digital video, an original soundtrack by the artist, and voice-over narration by actor Sean Maher.  A handsome chapbook accompanies the show.

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Adam Shecter poster at Eleven Rivington, 195 Chrystie Street

Capitalizing on the drama of its sprawling aspect ratio, New Year comprises scrolling, layered panels of moving images, almost like comic book pages unfurling, or like a parade of monitors on top of projections.  Shecter created New Year using Adobe Flash, After Effects, and Premiere – and miniature sets he built and filmed with animation assistance from SVA alum Jae Il Son.

As the images drift from end to end of the projection, I felt my eyes leap from panel to panel, settling on strong images, such as faces, or irresistible effects like flashing colors.  New Year plays with attention, and along with Shecter’s dynamic washes of acid colors and flickering lights, this suggests that sensory perception is an interest of New Year, in addition to memory.  That interest in perception might drive the recurring references to characters seeing and objects being seen.

New Year comprises three stories in one: a gay, married couple, A. and J.; an astronaut, Icarus, whose only interpersonal communication occurs via radio; and two stray dogs exploring a city’s highways.  The metropolis setting offers flashes of recognizable New York City storefronts, street signs, and newspaper racks, but the city of New Year seems to exist in a semi-apocalyptic future: “The entire city is surrounded by water,” reads the script. “Its bays, lakes, and ponds all end in the ocean.”   More importantly, the city exists in the minds of its characters more than on a plot of land; its coordinates are within neurons of memory and marks of habit, instead of points on a map.

The script of New Year encompasses Asimovian notions of robot-human coexistence, such as visiting your “favorite” robot, or watching the robot parade. It also captures atmospheres of Philip K. Dick, as in: “He knows which advertisements are being projected by the light spilling into his cockpit. His spotlight looks like a solid cone in the evening haze.”  But Hayao Miyazaki, rather than Syd Mead, haunts the animated imagery, and the variety of visual styles is as panoramic as the projection itself.

The relationship of A. and J. feels tempered and domestic, driven less by hot impulse and lust, and more by collaboration, familiarity, and empathy: “J. engraves a mark on the back of the watch every July. When J. gave it to A., he said the back represented their past, the front, their present and future.”  The stray dogs, on the other hand, enjoy playful liberty within a hierarchy quickly established.  Meanwhile, Icarus, our lonely astronaut, seems eager for a mate.  Here… am I sitting in my tin can, far above the world…