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Michael Bosworth's projections of images on film submerged in boiling water, which detriorate over the life of the exhibit.
J. T. Rinker's modern take on the magic lantern uses light from a TV screen to cast images onto a scrim curtain.

Michael Bosworth and J.T. Rinker at Hi-Temp Fabrications, Jody Hanson at M&T

Old technologies and techniques are used in new ways to make beautiful imagery in complementary installations by Michael Bosworth and J. T. Rinker at the Hi-Temp Fabrication building in the Cobblestone District on Perry Street, across from the hockey arena. This exhibit is part of the Beyond/In Western New York biennial extravaganza.

Bosworth makes stunningly beautiful video photographic images by a somewhat complicated but not hard to conceptualize technique that comments on how a camera sees, which is also how the eye sees. And how the mind works.

The images are of little landscapes with houses, but upside down. And also often rightside up, the rightside up image shimmering noticeably, as if viewed through water. Actually, the whole scene is photographed through water, a water tank, like an aquarium, with the camera held upside down. So the basic image is upside down. And the rightside up image, which shimmers noticeably, is the reflection of the basic image on the water’s surface, seen of course from under water.

(Meanwhile, an occasional water beetle swims hurriedly across the surface of the water, like a busy messenger between two visual, virtual worlds.)

Yet there is an impulse—despite the shimmer and dance of the rightside up image—to see this as the original image, the upside down image as the reflection. Because although the eye, like a camera, sees upside down—the image on the retina in the eye, as on the film in the camera, is upside down—the mind, in its obdurate determination to make things make sense, turns everything rightside up.

The idea of the upside down camera is to mimic the topsy-turvy experience of being caught in a flood, such as the Katrina flood and a flurry of other such inundation events around the globe in recent years. These are natural events, but, given the flurry of them, likely related to human-effect degradation of the global environment. In the Katrina case, given the US Army Corps of Engineers’ long-term tampering with the natural course and flow patterns of the Mississippi, for sure largely owing to human causes.

But it’s the beauty of the imagery that energizes the environmental meditation.

As also in another part of Bosworth’s installation, consisting of wall projections of images on film submerged in water that boils due to the heat of the halogen lamp light source, deteriorating the film and images alike, which are of abandoned and deteriorating housing near the Salton Sea, California, a lake created by flooding in the early part of the last century. The serendipitous lake attracted extensive housing development around it, which was abandoned when the lake soon salted and putrified.

(The word halogen is from the Greek word halos, meaning salt. And in Homer, the sea.)

Bosworth’s installation also includes a camera obscura, which is a camera, basically, big enough to walk into. A dark chamber, dark box, with an aperture to let in light that then projects—with or without a lens in the aperture—onto the back of the box, where the film would be in an ordinary camera. Though in this case the camera obscura has many apertures, with simple lenses, and a scrim curtain a short distance behind the lenses, so that the image projects onto the curtain, to facilitate viewing by the viewer in the box, who can see the projected images on the curtain in front of him rather than in the back of the box. And can also see imagery—indistinctly—through the aperture lenses.

Across the room, J. T. Rinker also projects on scrim curtains at the front of what are essentially recreations of the original original of the motion picture apparatus, the magic lantern. The magic lantern used a light source behind a painted image on a glass to project the image. Motion was created by moving the painted glass.

The magic lantern light source initially was a candle. Later, more technologically sophisticated and higher-intensity sources were used, such as kerosene-type lamps, and eventually Edison’s electric light bulb.

Rinker uses opaque objects, and stationary, in lieu of the painted images. And his light source is, are, bits or areas of bright light on an otherwise dark TV screen that change and move on the TV screen, casting shadows and silhouettes of the opaque objects that change and move on the scrim curtain.

In work that simultaneously uses and eschews up-to-date technology, Rinker communicates something of the wonder effect a century and more ago of the relatively technologically primitive magic lantern. Something of what Proust must have felt.

Plato’s cave comes to mind, with the shadow images in Rinker’s magic lantern works, and in the camera obscura experience in Bosworth’s installation. (Underscored by the somewhat cave-like exhibit space in the fine old Hi-Temp industrial building.)

•  •  •

Another Beyond/In installation with likenesses and differences with both the Bosworth and Rinker installations in terms of technology pared to its elements and projection onto scrim curtains, and the Bosworth in terms of projection through bubbling liquid, is the Jody Hanson installation nightly in the street level large front windows of the new M&T building, 285 Delaware Avenue, just down the block from Hallwalls.

Hanson projects light—no film, no video—through bubbling liquid. To accommodate the windows display space, using mirrors, the original vertical image is split and reoriented horizontally. The main function of the bubbles is to supply a lively visible object. You view the Hanson display from the street (or sidewalk).

jack foran

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