February 3, 2004

East of Fallon

by Michael Mateas · , 12:59 pm

In December, while visiting family in Nevada, I went to the Nevada Art Museum in Reno. My favorite piece was East of Fallon, Highway 50, Nevada by Joseph DeLappe, a new media artist at University of Nevada, Reno.

On entering a darkened room, you see what looks like a standard single-channel video installation, in this case endlessly looping video footage (presumably shot through the windshield) of a night drive through the desert on Highway 50. I watched the night drive for a few minutes before noticing the large wooden wheel turning in the corner of the room. Running along the inside of the wheel is a model roadbed complete with scrubby desert bushes along the side. At the bottom of the wheel, suspended just above the roadbed, is a light shining down on the turning road and a camera looking along the road. This, of course, is the source of the night drive footage. The road, including the non-descript desert landscape on the side of the road, is a scale model of a specific segment of Highway 50 that lies east of Fallon.

As a kid I always loved machines, especially if they did unusual or unexpected things. I’m fascinated by the sense of elaborate machinic contraptions that recreate or capture some part of the world. East of Fallon invokes in me the same sense of aesthetic and technical interest (and frankly, wonder), that I experienced in Musée Mécanique or that I experience when designing and working with large AI architectures.

2 Responses to “East of Fallon”

  1. andrew Says:

    Michael, that piece looks really great, a great concept well executed. I’ve seen a few installations here and there that also train a video camera on a small model of something, but not one where the model is moving like that.

    But the most shocking thing like this I’ve ever seen in an art piece was Gregory Barsamian‘s exhibit of 6 kinetic sculptures, Innuendo Non Troppo, at the San Jose Museum of Art. I could not believe what I was seeing. It took a while to figure out what was going on. I truly felt like I stepped into some alternate universe for a sec there.

    Here’s more describing it.

  2. michael Says:

    Yeah, I saw Barsamian’s work at the Wood Street Galleries in Pittsburgh (a great new media venue by the way – something you might now expect in Pittsburgh, and better than anything I’ve found in Atlanta). When I first saw his work it blew my mind.

    Another great piece of machine sculpture is Symphony for Dot Matrix Printer by Canadian art collective [The User]. It’s a room full of old dot matrix printers of various makes and models, controlled by a central computer to create a distributed musical piece out of the familiar grinding whine of such printers. Multi-channel video displays closeups of various moving parts within the printers. I spent 45 minutes hanging out with this piece – unusual in the must-assimilate-everything-as-efficiently-as-possible attitude that it’s easy to slip into in galleries and museums.

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