New Museum

Amy Granat

23 Jun - 19 Sep 2010

"Light 3 Ways"

Shaft Project Space

Amy Granat is best known for her experimental film installations featuring celluloid that has been manipulated by scratching, cutting, or chemical alteration. Her practice though, is wide-ranging, and also includes video, sound, and photography. Granat’s photograms, in which objects are laid on top of film and then exposed to light, are related to her films in terms of her physical approach to image-making. Both of these aspects of her work reveal a fascination with transparency and opacity, and positive and negative space. If Granat’s experimentations with the photogram—a method that emphasizes the intrinsic quality of film, allowing her to “draw” with light—conjures the work of Man Ray in the 1930s, her direct manipulation of film stock is an homage to avant-garde filmmakers such as Stan Brakhage. Non-narrative, Brakhage’s films are abstract compositions with affinities to postwar Abstract Expressionist painting. Granat’s work also recalls that of avant-garde filmmakers such as Hans Richter or Viking Eggeling, both of whom made some of the first light and film experiments in the early part of the twentieth century.

Granat’s project for the New Museum, “Light 3 Ways,” is an exploration of the various ways light can be perceived. The installation consists of three discrete, yet interconnected works, including a sound piece, an outdoor video projection, and a 16mm film installation. The audio work, created in collaboration with Christopher Anderson, is a recording of the sound created when one of Granat’s scratch films passes through a projector. The sound is then enhanced by a synthesizer, and the result can be heard by using the headphones on the staircase landing between the museum’s third and fourth floors. The outdoor projection is an abstract composition of light and dark made from a digitally manipulated video transfer of a scratched 16mm film. The video, which was made through a process of removal or erasure as a means to create a series of images, leaves in its wake an almost ghostly presence on the concrete exterior wall of the building just north of the Museum. Its pulsating biomorphic forms recall the results of a Rorschach print, used by psychologists to gage and record human perception. This component of the installation can be viewed Wednesday through Sunday, sunset to sunrise, from the Bowery or the New Museum’s seventh-floor terrace. The third work consists of three looped 16mm films activated by the viewer’s presence via a motion sensor. These stuttering, delicate films give the illusion of animated drawings. The rhythmic flicker of the white lines dancing against black is wholly absorbing; meditative, almost hypnotic.

Granat’s fascination with the potential of light, sound, and movement as mediums not only links her work to postwar experimental filmmaking, but also invokes the rich, but somewhat occluded history of experimentation with kinetic art, from Marcel Duchamp to László Moholy-Nagy and Jean Tinguely. Through the phenomenon of electricity and the miracle of movement, these avant-gardists envisioned a future of limitless artistic possibility beyond painting and sculpture. Though “Light 3 Ways” is a creation of the twenty-first century—a time of myriad discoveries that make those of an earlier era seem quaint—it allows us to understand and maybe participate in a very twentieth-century sense of wonder, and see the beauty of dancing light again for the first time.

“Light 3 Ways” is organized by Amy Mackie, Curatorial Associate, and Laura Hoptman, Kraus Family Senior Curator.

Banner image: Ghostrider (projection stills), 2006. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Eva Presenhuber

Amy Granat was born in St. Louis in 1976 and received a BA from Bard College in 1998. Granat participated in her first museum exhibition in 2003, at the Künstlerhaus Thurn und Taxis in Bregenz, Austria (curated by Steven Parrino). In 2004 she started the collective Cinema Zero along with Parrino and Olivier Mosset, screening movies and organizing music and performances, as well as exhibitions of painting and sculpture. Her work has been presented in solo exhibitions at CAN Centre D’Art Neuchatel, Switzerland; P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, New York; Le Confort Moderne, France; the Sculpture Center, New York; The Kitchen, New York; and at numerous galleries in the US and abroad. She lives and works in New York.

Tags: Stan Brakhage, Marcel Duchamp, Amy Granat, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Olivier Mosset, Steven Parrino, Man Ray, Hans Richter, Jean Tinguely