Guthrie Lonergan, Recent Music Videos, 2012

Each of these YouTube-mounted vids re-presented on a white space gallery site consists of a few basic elements. MIDI tunes with reverb or other spatial enhancements, existing somewhere between Satie's "furniture music," Mark Mothersbaugh's "Music for Insomniacs," and pompous corporate training films, anchor a series of found internet photos edited together into quasi-narratives using cheesy pans, wipes, dissolves, and morphs -- the whole arsenal of inexpensive video effects. The editing isn't MTV-rapid but slow and deliberate. Often we're asked to look at the same thing over and over.

There's a scene in Hitchcock's Rear Window where James Stewart puts down his telephoto lens, stops spying on his neighbors for a minute and observes that life can be depressing (not an exact quote and possibly Grace Kelly says it). The internet encourages consensual voyeurism and it only gets depressing when the member of one clan (say, worried artists) spies on another (people who photograph their toddlers in clothes hampers). Lonergan crosses and re-crosses this divide, not in a completely malicious way, but he certainly looks longer than you or I might.

What turns spying on the lumpenproletariat into a brilliant exercise is the creation of false stories. What is the cup game played by a quartet of college sophomores that involves occasionally standing up and kicking something? (Is this a real game?) Did the internet begin with a map of the world made of ceiling tiles, arranged on the floor? How much practice photographing strawberries did it take before the shutterbug was ready for a big spread on a trade show floor?

Other videos direct our attention to details of photos no one else is paying attention to, such as the Ansel Adams poster behind another group of frolicking college boys. Occasionally the narratives stray into the political, such as the photo-collection of people in T-shirts with conspicuous major oil company logos doing some sort of "habitat for humanity" project. Amateur aspirations are consistently acknowledged, in the manner of Michael Smith's videos such as "World of Photography" (made with William Wegman) -- for example, the assortment of terrible photos of foreshortened rulers used to demonstrate "depth of field." Lonergan's well-written music consistently adds a mood of portentousness and false drama to the most tedious of these proceedings.

Highly recommended.

Update: More

Update 2: Link to online exhibition updated. The gallery hosts the show for a couple of weeks and then makes the artist do it (?).