Construction: lights, lots and lots of fog and hard/blues rock: the former ‘materials’ were modulated and coordinated with the song Slow Ride by Foghat for Party On, Pedestal by Tony Balko at THE STOREFRONT. The event was scheduled last month during the 2nd Floor Rear Festival indicated in the 12 slots below, each respectively held in Logan Square.
The title of the exhibition is instructive in deciphering the visceral installation, performativity, and overall execution of this event. Essentially a performance where walls acted as the secondary site of introspection, a pedestal at the center of the space demanded all the viewer’s attention. The pedestal projected colors and emitted fog in sync with Slow Ride.
A casual passerby described this show by simply saying, “I liked it. It was trippy.”
I am not one to contest that opinion as such, but instead would want to provide a deeper reading of this statement, specifically illustrate what the ‘It’ is according to the passerby. The walls functioned merely as containers since what occurred in the performance only happened within them and not on them. The performance’s documentation, in photos and videos, is not sufficient in depicting the complex physical experience, as it fails to show how the lights and fog of the performance became the space of the exhibition.
The elements of this experience, such as the disregarded walls, dark space, spotlight and fog, deterred a ‘clear’ explanation. In addition, documentation through any digital camera – in my case an iPhone – offers a limited capability due to its lack of capacity to focus the lens. When I selected to take a picture of the lights, the focus on my iPhone on the fog became blurred and vice versa. More importantly, the medium of light as it moves across the room could not truly be captured on film (whether digital or analog) as it existed in the space. Due to this, I cannot properly describe this experience except by citing its psychedelic overtone, specifically the ‘lite’ experience. For me, watching the lights was similar to watching fireworks: one looks up in anticipation of the colors of light to burst and shine, filling the void of the dark night sky. The aspect of viewing, anticipation, and gratification worked in hyper speed in Party On, Pedestal, particularly in its virtual and atmospheric nature. What remarkably differs between fireworks and this piece, aside from difference in magnitude and proximity, was the speed of the colors pulsating in darkness. Usually, when fireworks are shot up in the air there is an incline, a rapid increase of electron energy that is accompanied with a rapid decline. During this apex, a rapid show of color (made by metal salts), sound, and finally a burst of light and action occur. This arc of incremental excitement did not occur in Balko’s work, but instead the motion was consecutively energetic. The music – in tandem with the colors – continuously brought forth a new hue from each circle’s center. The beginning of the performance was just as quick and intentionally anticlimactic as its ending. Only when it was over did I understand what had just occurred. Photos and video only capture a portion of the physical experience of the pulsating light.
To better encapsulate the experience I had, I’ll instead reference Balko’s modulated lyrics to illustrate the physical experience of Party On, Pedestal
Sloooowriiiide, take iiiit eaaaasssyy
SlooOooowuh rhhhyyyiiiideehhh, take it eeeuhhheazaaahy
Sloowiriddee, tahake iiit eaaasssiy