The Poool “is warm” at Whitney Museum, May 13, 1999
A live audiovisual performance by The Poool (Benton C Bainbridge, Angie Eng, Nancy Meli Walker) | musicians: Hoppy Kamiyama, David Weinstein, Jason Kao Hwang | set design: Liminal Projects
Whitney Museum of American Art at Philip Morris / Altria, 120 Park Avenue at 42nd Street, NYC 10012
Contemporary issues of the human body (plastic surgery, cloning, genome project, global breeding, artificial insemination) prompt a rediscovery of the Human as parts rather than a whole. Digital technologies, such as microscopes, endoscopy cameras and surveillance systems provide us with a way to see deeper and closer to ourselves. Take William deKooning’s Women paintings of layered planes of flesh and fragmented body parts. No boundaries exist between interior and exterior. (e.g.- eyes connected to arms, disconnected limbs painted on top of each other) Whereas in “Grande Odalisque” (JAD Ingres), the viewer remains a voyeur, the modern audience of deKooning is a participator able to be taken on a journey through the body. Having the capabilities to make the old young; the new ancient; illusions become realities. Backwards is forwards. (Martin Amis’ “Time’s Arrow” is about a character whose life is led from death to birth ). Beginnings are Ends (Milorad Pavic’s “Dictionary of the Khazars” is written so that the reader can begin at either end of the book and even the middle for that matter). It is here from the end, that The Poool begins to explore the body.
Like the archaeologist investigating the world through delicate scrutiny, The Poool debuts their latest, “is warm.” Having been primarily concerned with the details of everyday life (eating, fighting, fleeing, work etc.) it comes natural for this video performance group to make their latest project centered around the human vessel. Similar to the work of Alison Knowles ( ie. “Bread and Water”) The Poool is not involved with strict narratives nor societies symbols. Rather like Knowles, they are uncovering the “remnants of worn objects to evoke the mystery of how we sense and feel.” 1 Primordial senses are explored not only from an adults perspective, but also as a child exploring his own development. How age ages and youth is recalled is part of this expedition.
The Poool embarks on a journey through the body as sculpture, architecture and transference using low and high tech approaches. As in all of their performances, you can expect a variety of digital and analogue tools (ie. cameras, switchers, mixers, keyboards, etc.) along with commonplace raw visuals. ( ie. clay, cotton, plastic tubing, food, paper, etc.) On stage and on screen, a bombardment of materials collapse into each other, as in Carolee Schneeman’s performance, “Meat Joy” which uses paint, food, paper and the body. Such a complex sensory presentation does not end with moving pictures and live action. The Poool can only happen by collaborating with musicians and its set designers, Liminal Projects. A true dialogue occurs with sound and visuals as opposed to the music serving as sound effects or sound tracks. Miles Davis made paintings to “empty out possibilities of form that operated on the level of jazz improvisation going from music to art and back to music again as if part of the same structure.” 2 Using a similar approach, the musicians (Kamiyama, Weinstein, Hwang) create environments and atmospheres which take the viewer in and out of the body, drawing upon sounds which physically affect the audience.
Liminal Projects (Garofalo and Khan) expand the cinematic experience by creating a site specific stage composition. Using shadow, multi-projection, reflection, architectural shape and texture, these environmental artists build upon the performance to heighten the process of live video creation. Together, video, object and sound meld into each other to make a journey of the human (dis)figurement “in a world of play within one can feel the more delicate aspects of humanism fraying.”