West Coast Visions: Artists from the SFMOMA Media Arts Collection, is a special exhibition that will mark a rare occasion that multiple works from some of the most important American artists represented in SFMOMA’s media arts collection will be on view internationally together outside of the revered institution in San Francisco, California, which is known for having one of the preeminent collections of media artworks in the world and is currently undergoing construction for its major expansion project, opening early 2016.
This exclusive presentation at the Borusan Contemporary was specifically selected for the unique location and perspective of the Museum, which shares the unique commitment to artists who work with technology in their artistic practice.
The curator has chosen five works that resonate with Istanbul’s location, spanning an imaginary bridge between two regions that address their identity in relationship to a waterfront. The San Francisco Bay Area in California can be experienced in these West Coast Visions by artists who are either living in California or have addressed the location of the real or imaginary West. Early pioneers such as Steinaor Bill Viola are joined by important Bay Area artists such as Doug Hall and Bill Fontana. Jeremy Blake highlights a younger generation that fully embraced the digital tools since the early 2000s and was a significant forerunner to the digital-born generation today. The installations presented utilize technologies both high and low, from large-scale digital projection and software based animation to stacks of television monitors and sound based work.
Doug Hall‘s immersive two-screen video projection combines views of the structural grandeur of the bridge with footage of massive container ships passing beneath it. Emphasizing the monumentality of both the ships and the structure above them, the interplay of images reveals the bridge as part of an environment that is at once natural and human-made. Hall recorded portions of the video from the deck of a boat operated by the San Francisco Bar Pilots, whose job is to guide large vessels entering and leaving San Francisco Bay.
A highlight of Bill Viola‘s early work and the first decade of video art, The Reflecting Pool offers a seemingly simple representation of a man who emerges from a forest and stands before a pool of water. He leaps up and time abruptly stands still, suspending him in midair. Events then become reflections, literally as well as metaphorically, and the viewer loses a sense of reality. Closing the circular structure in the end, the man emerges from the water without ever having fallen in, and he walks away back into the forest. Viola’s philosophical riddle acts as a counterpoint to the 1970’s pioneers of performance as well as visual experimentation through processors and synthesizers, focusing instead on the deceptive nature of perception in the electronic realm.