See Tom Run ... and Run ... and Run
Summer movie mayhem at Arthouse
How precisely does one parse the difference in artistic merit between, say, a 15-year-old with Final Cut Pro splicing together fart jokes from the collected works of Jim Carrey and a gallery artist assembling a supercut of Tom Cruise running in movies? I honestly don't know. The first example is theoretical (at least, I think it is; I worry what kind of watch list I'll land on if I Google "Jim Carrey farting"). But like-minded video memes – Harry Hanrahan's "Nicolas Cage Losing His Shit," for instance – tend to live on YouTube, while the latter, British artist Jack Strange's Tom (2007), is currently on exhibit at Arthouse at the Jones Center.
There is Tom, running in a deserted Times Square in Vanilla Sky. There is Tom, capering across a roof, Mission Impossible-style. There is Tom, hauling ass away from aliens in War of the Worlds. All strung together and soundless, projected on a wall: summer movie mayhem infecting even the art world. It is mesmerizing. Is it so far removed from a YouTube supercut? Like I said, I dunno, but you'll feel smarter arguing the distinction in a gallery-hushed voice.
Strange's exhibit, "Within Seconds" (which closes July 10), also includes a three-channel video called Biff, Griff, and Mad Dog (2009), which overlaps footage from all three Back to the Future films (the title refers to the trilogy's unique baddies, all played by Thomas F. Wilson). Sound from the three films bleeds together to create, with the piece's headphones on, something of an ear-bleeding experience. (Is art supposed to hurt?)
But there's a blessed spot of quiet just around the corner. In a private theatre, behind a black curtain, runs the short film "Letter on the Blind, For the Use of Those Who See," from Whitney Biennial alum Javier Téllez. Taking its inspiration from an ancient Indian parable, "Letter on the Blind" films a half-dozen blind New Yorkers as they approach then explore with their hands an elephant, and voiceover narration details how they became blind and how they see the world now. It runs through the end of the month.