A Lapse in Time: Pilsen builds a beacon for time travelers

No one is a stranger to daydreams of turning back the clock. Thoughts of time travel act as a fantastical conduit for our feelings of regret, perceptions of chances bygone and speculations on the consequences of our actions. Theories of time-space continuum manipulation abound in the world of physics. Notable literary figures have successfully deployed time travel as a thematic device to secure it a prominent place in the minds of imaginative readers. But, though the act of time travel itself does not suffer from thinkers’ neglect, no veritable time traveler has yet to make himself known to the world.

But history is no deterrent for Amelia Winger-Bearskin. Winger-Bearskin, a trained opera singer turned video/performance artist, has been curating a series of time-themed video art group shows, whimsically inviting time travelers to congregate in one location. The fourth and final installment of the series, ”Time Lapse: antena,” will open in Pilsen’s antena gallery this Friday in a last, grandiose gesture, as Winger-Bearskin describes, to “make sure there is progress in this time-space continuum.”

“Time Lapse: antena” features the work of several video artists with differing stylistic tenors. As varied as their content may be, the videos are all displayed through the common technique of time-lapse photography. Images are played at a faster rate than that at which they were filmed. This time-lapse mechanism creates an illusion in which time unravels at an uncannily fast pace, forcing the immobile viewer to shed his thoughts on the imperturbable continuity of time. That is, until the video images overlap, causing “holes, lapses and mistakes,” adding yet another dimension of improbability to the exhibition. “Watching video art in this fashion is similar to time traveling,” says Winger-Bearskin. “Time traveling in this way is similar to another form of experiencing history.” Despite the uncertainties and broken moments projected on the screen, Winger-Bearskin says she composes the selections of video art to present a comprehensive viewing experience.

Winger-Bearskin, who teaches visual art classes at Vanderbilt University, shows her own work through the video art collective [PAM], the Perpetual Art Machine. She claims to be “greatly interested in exploring the fourth dimension in art, and [challenging] the visual experience in addition to the temporal connection to artistic experience.” Much in line with her realm of interests,
Winger-Bearskin’s earlier exhibitions in the series have explored the way in which people are goaded to respond to explicit manipulations of time. “It is important to me when I create a work to consider the viewer as an active witness, one whose own imagination is limitless and capable of moving beyond the mere suggestions of the piece,” explains Winger-Bearskin.

The three earlier exhibitions have opened in various American cities in the past two years. The first, ”Time Travelers,” was shown in 2007 at Polvo, antena’s predecessor in Pilsen. The subsequent ”Time Machine” was shown in Washington, DC’s Meat Market Gallery earlier in 2008. ”Time Lapse” opened in Nashville not long after.

Much to the chagrin of the artists and viewers involved, there was only a “mild turnout of time travelers” for the first curation in Polvo. Winger-Bearskin claims that the subsequent exhibitions in DC and Nashville produced a greater turnout of time travelers who “loved the live performances with the videos.” It is to be noted that the final installment of the series returns to the city in which the first took place. Perhaps this circular tour will compel more time travelers to reveal themselves.

”Time Lapse: antena” will be open to the public until December 20. Those curious about what would ostensibly bait time travelers are encouraged to partake in the viewing experience, but, of course, those of lesser curiosity are welcome as well. Let us just hope that Morlocks do not have an affinity for video art.

antena, 1765 S. Laflin St. November 21-December 20. Saturday, noon-5pm, or by appointment. antenapilsen.com