Monday, July 02, 2012

Walk with me

It took ages for museums to incorporate large video screens into their exhibition programmes and now darkened rooms (hopefully with a bench to sit on) have become an art museum staple. Having just seen Alter Bahnhof video walk by Canadians Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller in Kassel you can guarantee the small screen of the phone or media player will be everywhere, and the pick up is bound to be a lot faster. 

Cardiff's work was a 20-minute tour of the Kassel railway station that you followed with headphones and a media player. You retraced her footsteps through the building guided both by her video and by her voice. The effect was startling. Orchestrated events on your screen synched with your own experience of the walk or abruptly broke the connection. A dog runs past you on your screen and then barks behind you. It's weirdly impossible not to look round and wonder for an instant where the dog has gone. For us the work had another surprise in store when two dancers we had met via Lisa Densem in Berlin turned up on the small screen to perform for us in the waiting hall at the end of the piece. 

There's been a lot of discussion about what makes an immersive experience (often in the context of games) but this was the first time we had seen sound and video successfully used to navigate a real world space and respond to it at the same time. This has the potential to knock video right off the big screen. 

Images: Top and bottom left, taking the tour through the Kassel railway station. Bottom right, Laurie Young and Grayson Millwood performing at the end of the piece