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Work by Keir Neuringer and Justin Chouinard at Squeaky Wheel


For a meditation on the idea of revolution and revolutions in a metaphorical—that is, historical—sense, Keir Neuringer has created a perpetuum mobile literal revolution sculpture of reel-to-reel tape machines in a setup that cycles tape through the machines but also from wall to wall of the installation room, meanwhile recording and overlaying and playing back ambient noise, including audience noises, in a never-ending aural palimpsest that seems simultaneously to mock and honor the revolutions idea.

The installation is currently at Squeaky Wheel, along with one in which Justin Chouinard has (incredibly) stripped the delicate membrane of image-bearing emulsion (more or less intact, though the worse for wear) from its matrix film acetate, and mounted it on glass or some such transparent new matrix, including in some cases back onto clean film acetate, which resultant handcrafted film (which for purposes of the installation has been reformulated in a video medium) is then projected onto glass screens, sometimes alongside examples of the original raw stripped emulsion.

Extremely beautiful work. The framed glass mountings for the emulsion are old window frames of the sort you find in plentiful supply for the taking on big garbage days. One of the windows features vertical strips of emulsion appearing to hang like film in process in a darkroom. Then on closer inspection, you see that the film is not film in the ordinary cinematic sense, but just the emulsion, in an apparent wash of soft but dense Kodachrome colors, as if the colors had mixed and blended all together in whatever wet technique was employed in the stripping process. (But then later you learn that the stripping process was a dry process, using just an X-Acto knife. Brain surgery work.) Whereupon, on really close inspection, you see that the colors are not a wash at all, but you discern figural imagery on the emulsions. People. Things.

The emulsions are mostly damaged (versus the emulsion on acetate of the original film) in the stripping process, but some of the emulsion frames, by dint of the artist’s skill and some luck, are pristine or practically so.

Another piece features a score or so of horizontal strips of emulsion in close-packed layers across the width of a window, in the lower portion of the window, like geological stratigraphic layers, complete with faults and fractures and unconformities, in three major stratigraphic divisions, representing three different segments of film or films from which the emulsions were stripped. Or alternatively, like some tattered tricolor flag, in mixed colors of a spring or fall walk in the woods, vivid greens and browns and reds.

The projected works (that is, of emulsion reapplied to a new acetate matrix) display flashing bright pastel greens and yellows, noonday sunlight colors, interspersed with occasional brief snatches of midnight darkness, all thoroughly abstract, understandably, following the multiple steps and stages of processing.

Back to the Keir Neuringer meditation on revolutions. An irony about revolutions is that each new one that comes along makes all the previous ones passé. And before long another new one will come and make the current revolution old.

In addition to the perpetuum mobile central feature machines and tape cycling and recycling around the installation space, the floor of the space is strewn with a few hundred torn sheets of white paper each inscribed with a name of or reference to a different generally credited or more dubious historical revolution. Among the credited ones, the standards—Industrial Revolution, Scientific Revolution—but also revolutionary artistic and cultural figures and phenomena—Igor Stravinsky, John Coltrane, Civil Disobedience, Nonviolent Resistance, Liberation Theology, Stonewall Riots, Weather Underground. Among the more dubious or debatable revolutions, Autonomy, Kleptocracy, the My Lai Massacre, Orthodoxies.

The Keir Neuringer and Justin Chouinard exhibits continue through August 20.

jack foran

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