A couple weeks ago I stopped at the St. Louis Art Museum to see the Currents 103: Claudia Schmacke exhibition. It is up on the third floor in the 301 and 337 galleries. The show runs until July 5th, 2009.
Claudia Schmacke is a German artist based in Berlin who explores temporally and the perception of time.
Part of the exhibition was a sculpture made of plastic tubing, water and fluorescent dye that loops out and stretches out across one of the walls. The water is being propelled through the tubes, thus there is a noticeable hum. This sound seems to have some importance to the piece itself so it is not just purely incidental. This particular piece is called Time reel.
The title makes an obvious reference to film reels. In this day and age many young people may not get the reference. I remember in school being shown films from a projector and the light clicking noise that was made from the film going reel to reel. The noise sort of has that feel and the fact that the water is cycling makes that reference to the physical, mechanical motions that are involved in showing a film. I think the dye was to make the moving water more noticeable to the viewer.
Here are some images of Time Reel:
The other part of the exhibition is made up of two videos. One is called Umbilicus and the other is called Dark Matter. Both videos were shot in LA near the La Brea Tar Pits. Both videos are looking down into drainage pipes. I only saw part of Umbilicus… it was nearly 20 minutes long. It features water being sucked down this small drainage pipe. Featured prominently are the sucking, gurgling and other sounds that can come from water going down a drain. The sounds would make young children laugh (some adults too). I do believe she is making references between the body and structures and systems that help keep places functioning.
Also, there is that issue of time. Time being relative. Time always moves as a constant speed (seconds, minutes, hours, days, etc) but our perception of time always changes. When there is excitement time seems to fly. When there is not much going on, leading to boredom, time seems to crawl. Looking at a 20 minute video of water going down a drain seems to be a good example of the latter. The video just never seems to end. I believe the artist is not trying to bore you to death, but is keeping the viewer aware of time and how it is perceived.
For a still image of one of the videos stop by the St. Louis Art Museum website.
Also, you can stop by the Claudia Schmacke website for more info on her work and career.