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The Dark Lining, Marco Brambilla’s first solo museum exhibition, features seven major time-based works from 1999 to the present. Brambilla’s oeuvre consists of complex video installations. Much of his work comprises found film footage edited, layered, and spliced to create compelling new narratives and stunning visual mosaics. With exquisite technical production and seamless editing, Brambilla’s multi-layered tableaux of interconnecting images and looped video blend into an expansive landscape that forms his hallmark style.
These are optical mash-ups and visual remixes of the highest order. Some are clever and curious, some are beautiful and hypnotic, most are superbly interesting; his newest work is innovative, dense and mind-blowing. It was not lost on me, or few around, that the show opened on May 21st, this was the day of The Rapture® that was predicted and promised by an eccentric few; this alleged End of Days that, fortunately, never occurred.
The date was fitting with the display of Civilization (Megaplex), 2008/2011, a 3-D high definition multi-layered tableau of interconnecting images that illustrates a contemporary, satirical take on the concepts of eternal punishment and celestial reward. More than three hundred individual channels of looped video are blended into an expansive landscape that continuously scrolls upward, from the depths of hell to the gates of heaven. This piece was originally commissioned by Andre Balázs for The Standard Hotel, New York as a video installation in their elevators. The recent conversion to 3-D has launched Civilization, literally, into another realm.
Evolution (Megaplex), 2010, is the follow-up to Civilization (as seen in the above video header). It is the second of this series, Brambilla is currently working on a third, to round out a trilogy. In this, the history of mankind is illustrated as a vast side-scrolling video mural depicting the spectacle of human conflict across time through the lens of cinema. In Evolution, the source material is genre film; the samples are looped and combined into a remix that seamlessly moves through past, present, and future providing a satirical take on the bombast of the big-budget epic. This new, never before seen piece, Evolution, is amazing. Much like Civilization, it comes off as a dense and kinetic Hieronymus Bosch painting filtered through popular culture and a giant View-Master on steroids. It subversively transcends the gimmick nature and trend of 3-D stereoscopic film that we are currently witnessing and morphs it into the highest of art forms. I was lost in its intricacy and density for almost an hour. Just check out some of the film references that are woven into this cyclic 3-D tapestry:
2001: A Space Odyssey, Clash of the Titans, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, King Kong, Yul Brenner, Gandhi, Elvis Presley in Jailhouse Rock, Full Metal Jacket, Tropic Thunder, Apocalypse Now, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Clint Eastwood, John Wayne, Droogs from A Clockwork Orange, Barbarella, Interview with a Vampire, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, the car flying into oblivion from Thelma & Louise, the Delorean from Back to the Future Part III, U.S. President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho from Idiocracy, Doctor Octopus from Spider Man 2, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Armageddon, Starship Troopers, The Matrix, Iron Man, AT-AT walkers form Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial, Star Trek‘s Enterprise, mixed in with sumo wrestlers, gladiators, cherubs, marching soldiers, emperors, bullfighters and a lonely crab.
Evolution is a must see. Go check it out, soak it in and discover some references and Easter eggs that I may have missed.
In 2010, Brambilla directed Kanye West‘s video for POWER. This piece shows a continuous camera move from extreme close-up of Kanye West, revealing a neo-classical video tableau showing characters and creatures surrounding him in an abstract environment, all moving in extreme slow motion. Inspired by Michelangelo’s frescoes in the Sistine Chapel, the piece depicts a faux historical moment, an empire on the brink of collapse from its own excess, decadence and corruption.
A short film on Marco Brambilla and the making of POWER:
Marco Brambilla: The Dark Lining
May 21-August 20, 2011
Santa Monica Museum of Art
Bergamot Station G1
2525 Michigan Avenue
Santa Monica, CA 90404
Museum Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 11am-6pm