September 26, 2014 - Portikus - Lucy Raven
September 26, 2014

Lucy Raven

Lucy Raven, Curtains (still), 2014. Film. Courtesy of the artist and Portikus.

Lucy Raven

September 27–November 23, 2014

Opening: September 26, 8pm
Illustrated lecture Motion Capture: September 29, 7:30pm

Alte Brücke 2 / Maininsel
60594 Frankfurt am Main

Portikus is pleased to present Curtains, American artist Lucy Raven’s first institutional solo exhibition in Europe. Raven’s practice encompasses a wide variety of media, including animated films, sculptural installations, performative lectures, curatorial projects, art criticism, and interventions into live television. Connecting all of these disparate strands is the artist’s continuing exploration into the effects of technology on the world. Raven is interested in the connections between labor and image production, in the ways images might convey industry and how they operate within larger workforces—often unbeknownst to the viewer. 

By scrutinizing how the illusion of spatial depth is created between the poles of the still image and 3D animation, Lucy Raven addresses a central question of filmmaking in the 21st century. Since the demise of analogue film, increasingly immaterial processes of visual production dominate Hollywood’s industrial manufacture of animated settings. Actors play their parts in green screens; postproduction studios subsequently transplant them into programmed environments without any basis in reality. Lucy Raven’s recent research on the conversion of 2D cinematic images to 3D takes a long view on the film industry’s integration of live-action footage and animation techniques. Hollywood and its collaborators have long filled in gaps in realism in one medium with the help of the other. The practice is so ubiquitous that digital media theorists like Lev Manovich wondered whether 21st-century live-action cinema should actually be considered a sub-genre of animation, or even of painting.

For Curtains, a film especially produced for the exhibition, Lucy Raven transforms Portikus into a movie theater. The anaglyph film makes reference to the original 3D technology of stereoscopic images, a photographic technique used as early as the 1850s. It endows pictures with an illusion of spatial depth by presenting two views shot from two slightly different vantage points; the viewer sees them converging into a single image that appears to possess depth. Unlike in stereoscopy, however, the two freeze frames in each scene of Curtains converge from the margins toward the center only to move apart again. The film can be looked at with or without the assistance of 3D glasses, and shows postproduction designers working on converting current movies into digital 3D experiences by rendering a computer-generated second perspective on the set shot for the original. This technique proceeds frame by frame, and given the 24 frames-per-second standard of the movies, it is time-consuming and involves a large amount of labor; the job is often outsourced to places far away from Hollywood in Asia, but also in cities like London and Vancouver, where governments offer tax incentives to the film industry. With her stills gradually shifting into each other until they coincide, the artist compels a deceleration of the movies, a return to the isolated frame. The modern workers are poised, motionless, in an office space stuffed with flat screens used in the digital creation of imaginary bodies in illusory spaces. Their immobility contrasts oddly with their task—after all, they work for the “moving pictures.”

Just like the actor who plays his part without an actual movie set on location, the technician loses touch with the physical aspect of filmmaking: the real presence of sceneries, the materiality of the reel of 35mm film. In the new digital movie industry, the demise of the material goes hand in hand with the dissolution of the product’s ties to Hollywood: a fundamental shift that is one of the greatest challenges the cinema has faced since its inception.

Lucy Raven (b. 1977) lives and works in New York. She studied at Bard College’s Graduate School of the Arts in upstate New York and recently taught at Berkeley and at Cooper Union in New York. Wide audiences have seen her works in solo and group exhibitions at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; the MoMA, New York; the mumok, Vienna; and elsewhere. Upcoming activities include a solo exhibition at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco in November. In preparation for her exhibition at Portikus, Lucy Raven was a resident artist at the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center EMPAC in Troy, upstate New York, where she received support during the production of her film. Her work is part of the collections of Tate Modern, MoMa New York, Guggenheim Museum, Whitney Museum, Berkeley Art Museum as well as mumok in Vienna.

During the kickoff to this year’s B3 Biennial of the Moving Image Autumn School, the artist will give an illustrated lecture on the nexus between work and image production on September 29 at 7:30pm. Doors open at 7pm.

Lucy Raven is creating an artist’s edition for Portikus. For more information, please contact info [​at​]

Curated by Philippe Pirotte


Lucy Raven at Portikus
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