Oct 27, 2023 — Mar 1, 2024
Location: Amphitheater Gallery
Opening Reception: Friday, October 27
David Levine’s Dissolution is a jewel-box sculpture that conjures the past and future of the moving image. This hypnotic volumetric projection—a hologram viewable from any angle—functions as a kind of digital zoetrope, beaming colorful pixels at 30 frames per second onto an oscillating glass plate that clatters like a 16mm film projector.
Melding analog and digital is intrinsic to Dissolution. A 20-minute film played on a loop, it draws on the central conceit of iconic 1980s movies and TV shows such as Tron and Max Headroom: human characters who find themselves dematerialized and confined within the interior worlds of electronic devices. The work’s disembodied protagonist shapeshifts through digital terrains that allude to cultural touchstones: from the tragic Greek figure Laocoön to the classic adventure game King’s Quest to psychedelic Op-art paintings. Zapped into the machine, stuck in a museum, the piece raises questions about the value of art and the nature of value itself.
Dissolution’s narrator, by turns anguished, insightful, humorous, and disillusioned, offers a provocative ambivalence about the technologies that both enable and contain its existence—a resonant reflection at a time when much of our physical reality has become virtual.
Organized by Sonia Epstein, Curator of Science & Technology
Accompanied by a Science on Screen series featuring a selection of films that depict digital devices entrapping humans.
The artist would like to thank Ariana Smart (executive producer), Katie Soule (production coordinator), Andrea Merkx (animator and sound designer), Elliott Mitchell (technical director), Matthew Brelsford (technical artist), Laine Rettmer (voice artist and volumetric capture performer), Alexander Porter (volumetric consultant and credit designer), and Mike Flannery (audio engineering and design).
Dissolution was created with support from: Harvard University’s Lasky-Barajas Innovation Fund, Adrian Cheng and Jennifer Dean Fund for Innovation in the Arts, and the Dean’s Competitive Fund for Promising Scholarship; the MIT Center for Art, Science, and Technology (CAST); the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
About the artist:
David Levine’s work encompasses performance, video, and photography. He is a Professor of the Practice of Performance, Theater, and Media at Harvard University. His performance and exhibition work has been presented by the Brooklyn Museum, Creative Time, MoMA, Jeu de Paume, MACBA, REDCAT, MCA Chicago, Mass MoCA, PS122, and the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, and has been featured in Artforum, Frieze, Theater, BOMB, The New Yorker, andThe New York Times. His solo exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum, Some of the People, All of the Time, was named one of the ten best exhibitions globally by The New York Times in 2018. He has also directed operas and plays at BRIC House, the Atlantic Theater, Primary Stages, and Soho Rep. His writing has been published in n+1, Cabinet, Parkett, and Triple Canopy. He is the recipient of a 2013 OBIE award and 2018 Guggenheim Fellowship, and has also received fellowships from the Radcliffe Institute, the MacDowell Colony, and the Foundation for Contemporary Arts.