Out of the ordinary

Video art and metal sculpture intersect in subSensory

A masterwork for collaborating artists Dan Walsh and Scott Silvey, subSensory at City Gallery @ Chastain is a delightful full-body experience. Headed in an entirely different direction from other new media art in Atlanta, their exhibition combines sculptural and digital mediums in a truly innovative way.

The show, presented by the City of Atlanta Bureau of Cultural Affairs, features the outcome of the Bureau's first Emerging Artist Grant. Walsh received the $1,000 award last year and decided to share the funds with Silvey.

Working together for the first time, Walsh and Silvey have intimately linked imagery to environment in a rigorous creative process. The two created a deceptively simple domestic environment inside the gallery. Their simulated home has no walls, though Silvey's sculptures describe a life-sized kitchen, bedroom and bath. In the kitchen, he's shaped steel into the outline of a counter, refrigerator and stove. Walsh's video enters the room through projected images of translucent people and objects in silhouette that actually seem to move through the space. In red, blue and orange, his characters pantomime domestic activities — carrying in bowls, placing food in the oven and dishes in the fridge, taking a shower, reading a book.

Lone figures interact with the space and disappear or walk out, just as they might in a real-life room. Similar encounters are repeated in all three of the settings, where spare sounds accompany the visuals — a metal pot scrapes the stovetop, a door opens and closes, footsteps cross the kitchen floor, water streams from the shower and musical tones accompany visual shifts in the bedside lamp.

The equipment for Walsh's projections is contained in three huge white rectangular boxes lying horizontal at the foot of each scene. Though bigger than freezers, they add to, rather than subtract from, the concept. The structures recall the aesthetic of minimalist sculptor Donald Judd and serve as ghostly reminders of how media looms at the edge of even the most private space.

A successful interactive element in the environment involves three tiny surveillance cameras. They simultaneously observe and project the image of viewers into Walsh's video, making them actors in the subSensory sitcom. Becoming part of the three-dimensional animation is both awkward and fascinating.

"This work is about how something ordinary can take on significant meaning," Walsh says. Without a doubt, the show points to the comic drama of the everyday. The viewer dropped into a house haunted by mundane rituals can't help but contemplate the history of human energy that's bound up in domestic objects. There's magic in the way that subSensory encourages us to reconsider the power in an empty chair and the importance of water waiting in the shower.

subSensory continues through April 28 at City Gallery @ Chastain, 135 W. Wieuca Road. Mon.-Sat. noon to 5 p.m. 404-257-1804.??

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