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.

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rufuslevin 1 Like

I thought the turnout was great. Viewing at the Belvedere Hotel Bar was a bummer...too crowded, valet parking only, and a mob of barflies not into art at all....the best seemed to be near Reunion vacant field....problem I was was the Omni displays too few "pixels" to do justice to the terrific art films the artists provided....but if it brought attention...then fine by me.


Good Lord.  Houston did this 26 years ago with every building in downtown.

Omnivore 1 Like

 @Craigley The "Power of Houston" downtown celebration was underwritten by Houston Lighting & Power and included Project Bandaloop dancing/rapelling down a high-rise -- so, yeah, that could be something for Dallas to shoot for (say on 4th of July) on a higher level with pyrotechnics and what-not.  -Still, last night was a preview of cooler things to come, hopefully.   But first either the city or Omni needs to replace or repair the burned out sections of LED's on the hotel - the building is starting to look gap-toothed.


 @Omnivore Rendez-vous Houston and Power of Houston are two separate events.  Rendez-vous Houston set the standard.  But this Dallas art seems out of place.

Jamie_L. 1 Like

 @Craigley  @Omnivore Why did it seem out of place? And also why can't we all just enjoy something for once instead of fixating on the 'coulda beens'?  Expanded Cinema was its own, unique experiment organized by a tiny group of artists that wound up engaging a whole city. That's something worth celebrating. In Dallas, Houston or anywhere.


 @Craigley Colored spotlights and projection screens hung on buildings are a far cry from what happened last night, although something tells me you're going to piss on this regardless.

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