Peter Bogers’ video-art creates a connection with viewers

By Kurt Shaw
Friday, September 13, 2002              (Traduction Francais au bas)



People-watching, we all do it. But in this simple act of self-indulgence, there are the occasional awkward moments when the people we are watching notice.
That is the theme of video artist Peter Bogers' recent video projection piece "Shared Moments." It, along with several additional works, is on display in the Dutch artist's American debut exhibition at Wood Street Galleries, Downtown.
"Usually they have some sort of suspicion that they are being filmed," Bogers says about the subjects in "Shared Moments," a large-scale video work that includes people sitting in public squares, coffee shops and train stations in Budapest; paragliders in France; and the artist's daughter sleeping in the middle of the night. Bogers secretly filmed each subject with a micro-DVD recorder, waiting for the exact moment when they noticed that he and his camera were watching. "At some point, they check my camera," Bogers says. "They don't know if it is running or not, but they know it is there."
It is at those moments that
Bogers has slowed down the resultant video fragments and accompanying audio that comprises "Shared Moments." Shown in multiples of three, six and 12 images along the back wall of the 60-foot-long gallery on the second floor, the effect is startling when you realize that all of the people the artist has videotaped are all of a sudden looking at you.
Bogers captured all the video fragments in just a few days in 1999. Later, in his studio in Amsterdam, he manipulated each of them so that, regardless of how long each person looked at Bogers' camera, all of their returned glances would last the same amount of time in the piece.
To further aid the effect, Bogers added time codes at the bottom of each video clip and, in a few - most notably at the train station - he has added audio beeps at the precise moment when the subjects glance at the camera, which brings an element of humor to the piece.
Cumulatively, all of these elements create a real sense of space and time, but in reality the only "shared moment" taking place here is between video image and viewer.
In his art, Bogers uses video like a sketchpad, capturing raw material with which he will later review and determine its use. Oftentimes, these images take on special meaning for the artist, and he will save and reuse them over time as he has in smaller, earlier works on the same floor.
In "Portrait" (1991), Bogers has used a favourite video image he made 15 years ago of himself in profile, slowly pushing saliva through a bent tube so that it drips into his eye. Displayed on a small monitor that the artist has housed in a glass display case, the looped image can be seen distorted through thick convex lenses that the artist has placed on one end.

In another piece, "Sacrifice" (1994), a video loop of the artist's mouth being filled up with water plays, again on a small monitor behind thick lenses.

The backdrop to this piece is a large black-and-white photo of the artist lying in a bathtub as he recorded the video. In many ways, that image provides a mental backdrop for Bogers' second large-scale video projection work, which is contained in the third-floor gallery.
Also featuring the artist submerged in water, the piece is titled "Play-Rev-Play" (1999), because, Bogers says, "It refers to the technique - how it is made."

An installation, the piece comprises three large semi-transparent screens that Bogers has strategically hung in the 30- by 60-foot gallery. On the screens are projected partial images of himself - in particular his head, a hand and a foot - videotaped while submerged in water.
Not knowing whether he is drowning, hiding or shutting out the world, the viewer is surprised when - all at once - the body breaks the surface of the water.
"The person comes up, then the video is frozen and played backwards in reverse slowly and the sound goes along with it," Bogers says.
Hovering at the edge of abstraction, the suspended video images have a fragile, vulnerable aspect. Over time, they persist like an obsession, or a healing wound, where periods of relative calm are suddenly disrupted.
In Bogers' work, video projection is no longer simply a mode of representation. He has transformed it into a fluid and synthetic medium that transports the viewer to a place between time and space where reality is slowed and examined.
The exhibition is a remarkable debut for an artist who, no doubt, will not go unnoticed.


Through Oct. 19. Hours: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays; 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays.

Wood Street Galleries, 601 Wood St. (above the Wood Street "T" Station), Downtown.


Traduction Francais


Article de Kurt Shaw paru dans le journal Tribune - Review Art Critic

Date de parution : 13 septembre 2002


Regarder des gens, nous le faisons tous. Mais dans ce geste complaisant, il y a quelques moments délicats, quand les gens que nous regardons réalisent…

C’est le sujet de “Shared Moments”, la récente installation vidéo de l’artiste Peter Bogers. (…)

“En principe, ils soupçonnent plus ou moins qu’ils sont filmés” affirme Bogers à propos des sujets de Shared Moments, un travail vidéo de grande envergure qui représente des personnes dans les jardins publics, les cafés et les gares à Budapest ; des parapentistes en France ; et la fille de l’artiste en train de dormir en pleine nuit. Bogers filme secrètement chacun des sujets avec une caméra DV, en attendant le moment précis où ils s’aperçoivent qu’ils sont observés. “À un moment donné, ils matent ma caméra”, raconte Bogers. “Ils ne savent pas si elle tourne ou pas, mais ils savent qu’elle est là.” Ce sont les fragments vidéos et la bande sonore de ces moments que Bogers a ralenti et qui composent Shared Moments.

Projettée sur un long mur par multiples de trois images, l‘effet de cette installation vidéo est saisissant quand vous réalisez que ces gens filmés vous regardent soudainement et simultanément.

Bogers a tourné tous ces fragments vidéo en quelques jours seulement, en 1999. Plus tard il les a manipulés un à un dans son atelier à Amsterdam, de telle sorte que les regards, adressés en retour par tous les protagonistes à la caméra, aient la meme durée dans la vidéo, sans se soucier de la durée pendant laquelle chacun d’eux l’avait effectivement regardée.

Pour contribuer à l’effet, Bogers a ajouté des “time code” en bas de chaque séquence vidéo et dans quelques unes, notamment celle de la gare, a introduit des bips sonores, non sans humour, au moment précis où les sujets regardent la caméra.

Cumulativement, tous ces éléments donnent un vrai sens à l’espace et au temps, bien que le seul “moment partagé” qui ait lieu soit en réalité celui qui survient entre l’image vidéo et le spectateur. (…)


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