While often the recipient of critical accolades, the Santa Monica Museum of Art (at Bergamot Station,) remains just slightly off the radar screen for many Angelenos. But the current exhibition, entitled The Dark Lining, by video artist Marco Brambilla, merits an obligatory pilgrimage to Santa Monica sometime before the show closes on August 20th.
Simultaneously thoughtful, bombastic and pyrotechnical – the bi-coastal, Italian-born, Canadian-bred Brambilla dazzles viewers with state-of-the-art visual effects employed toward thoughtful ends: In Sea of Tranquility, 2006, a time lapse image of the gradual erosion of the lunar lander suggests the decay and demise of American optimism in the first decade of the new millennium. In Wall of Death, 2001, a video loop creates the illusion of a motorcycle rider in a continuous state of peril as he endlessly defies gravity navigating the inside of a giant cylinder – a metaphor for the game of living.
These are but appetizers in anticipation of the main course, two 3D videos, employing Hollywood film clips to generate writhing, pop-culture-fueled, virtual sculptures, depicting the history of mankind and heaven & hell: Evolution (Megaplex) 3-D and Civilization (Megaplex) 3-D, respectively.
Most impressively, the special effects serve to define and deepen the impact of the two videos rather than merely indulging our appetite for technological eye-candy.