Thursday, February 01, 2007

Bang! Bang! Bang!

I am standing in the darkened room at the back of the White Cube on Hoxton Square which is showing Christian Marclay’s four screen video installation, most of my fellow visitors stand fixed to the spot and focussed on one screen only, I am however wheeling round darting my eyes from screen to screen and pacing around. All around me gunshots ring out from each screen and the associated imagery culled from a variety of films show the quick cutting edits of the actors firing off shots.
We are in the firing line, either targets of or bystanders in a horrible but strangely compelling and grin inducing gang war. Triads, western gunslingers, Mexican bandits, street thugs, loose cannon cops, armed private eyes, drug dealers and femme fatales take aim and repeatedly fire at us, this does not feel like art it feels like some Hollywood live action cartoon in which we have blundered. A sense of the real and the fantasy are bouncing round my mind as quickly as my feet are shifting from right to left and my eyes are darting from screen to screen, and then the shooting subsides until the flashing and jumping imagery settles into eery soundtrack music and darkened calm, there is not so much a tension in the room but there is an atmosphere, my fellow visitors in the gallery are reacting but I cant quite put my finger on what emotions they are feeling.

Then we hear the sound of reloading, quietly at first and then more urgent and then the firing begins again, back in the crossfire my mind starts to order the sounds of gunshots, many of the looped video segments are random but as the firing continues other parts of the edit start to order into a percussive rhythm, like a drum solo moving from polyrythmic to an almost conventional beat, this is close to music, it never lasts but for brief moments of Marclay’s bizarre homage to Hollywood’s on screen death counts it is like a drum beat of death and destruction. It is oddly reassuring, maybe a diet of ‘70’s U.S cop shows has inurred me to the significance of the reality that such stylised gun play reflects.

I cant decide if this is showy video pop art or something deeper and darker, either way this is compulsive and impressive, whether entertainment or something else it is one of the more engaging exhibitions that the White Cube has seen for a while.

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