Last Night, on the Omni Hotel, "Expanded Cinema" Opened Art To Everyone
There are a lot of thank yous to pass out in the afterglow of last night's "Expanded Cinema" project. Omni Hotel, thanks for allowing our local artists to get all handsy with you. KXT, thanks for broadcasting the soundtrack so we could have a complete sensory experience. And Bart Weiss, Carolyn Sorter and the rest of the Dallas VideoFest crew that created the event, organized the details and built the programs themselves: You guys did something important. You solved the ultimate puzzle: How do you get the entire city excited about art?
It turns out that the answer is simple: Give them a giant television.
They came out in buses. They parked in clusters around the bridge. They filled fields, climbed hills and formed tiny encampments around the Trinity to watch video projections created by 14 local talents. And when each piece ended, they applauded.
As inclusive as we try to make the experience of taking in art, it intimidates people. They worry they don't know enough to enter the conversation, or they don't have the vocabulary to express their feelings about the work. Or hell, maybe they just feel uncomfortable walking into a gallery, aren't sure of what to wear (PS: the answer to that one is "Anything you damn well please"), or feel like they've come into the game too late in life to catch up. "Expanded Cinema" eliminated all of those barriers. It allowed groups of friends and individuals to view video art on entirely their own terms, while simultaneously exposing them to one of art's newest and most quickly evolving mediums. And maybe most important of all, the program allowed Dallas to laugh at itself.
We saw the Omni, this icon of excess of flash, repurposed as a transmission tool for works about exotic dancers (Michael Morris' Monument For Juanita: Candy Is the Sun), missed human connections (Jenny Vogel's Save Our Souls) and even parodies of the canvas itself, like in Shane Mecklenburger's OMNEY. For one hour last night, we looked at that building and didn't feel the mixed bag of emotions that usually accompanies its bold presence in the skyline. Instead, we hung on its every word. That structure became relatable, and at times, sensitive. That's something only art can accomplish, and we experienced it together.
If you liked what you saw last night, support the Dallas VideoFest this weekend. It kicks off today and runs all weekend long at the Dallas Museum of Art.