Aug. 8, 2007
“Perspectives in the Crowd”
Author: Christopher Bedford
06.20.07-08.29.07 Bolsky Gallery at Otis College of Art and Design,
“Perspectives in the Crowd” is a large-scale video projection comprising over fifty DIY audiovisual accounts of Daft Punk’s raucous 2006 performance at the Coachella Music Festival, all gathered from YouTube and spliced together by artist Tucker Neel. The effect of this unlikely project is mesmerizing and variously suggestive. Like much of the best performance documentation—think of Chris Burden’s early performance photographs or the Viennese Actionists’ fastidiously composed performance stills—this video compilation immediately establishes itself as ontologically distinct from the live source event. It is true that each digital video captures the same musical performance, but the resultant work is of an entirely different order; ultimately, Neel’s canny project is an autonomous aesthetic gesture only tenuously related to the spectacle that is its source. Agitated camera movement and digital pixelation conspire to render the stage a throbbing mass of light, screens, and speakers. The pounding of electronic beats cuts in and out, and only occasionally does the amateur camera operator succeed in training his or her lens on the two space-age druids elevated in the center of the stage, fiddling feverishly with a concealed control panel, their efforts generating a state of near hysteria in the audience. Neel’s work has a presentness entirely absent from most performance documentation. This presentness derives chiefly from that fact that Neel accepts the formal limitations of the medium he is working with, as well as the serendipities of novice camerawork, and exploits those characteristics to create a shimmering, largely abstract audiovisual spectacle that offers the viewer an entirely self-contained, entirely gripping experience.