Last month El Guapo had another piece of video art accepted for display at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. The first one, Evening Traffic, you can see here, all bright colors and abstraction. The second work has a more personal connection. This time, it’s me up in lights.
The piece is called Dancing at Saint-Rémy,* and features footage of el Guapo and me dancing in silhouette, as well as some of me on my own. When he filmed us dancing in one of the studios at the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia last spring, I knew the resulting video would appear in a rather abstract form in a piece for a Berklee Valencia concert. I did not anticipate being seen larger than life against a wintery Boston skyline.
Liebling and Chiquito were here from Germany, and Fiddler and Limonada from Utah, so we all (Loquita and Ninja too) went over on Christmas night to see what we could see.†
The total screen area on which the video is displayed is not quite the size of the largest video screen at Fenway Park, but it’s not a lot smaller (nearly double the total square footage of our house, at any rate). It’s a curious feeling watching myself up in lights on such a scale.
If you’re in the neighborhood on a Thursday or a Sunday in the next few months, you’re invited to take a look. If standing around in a midwinter wind on Summer Street in Boston doesn’t sound likely, you can watch this miniature version, and try to imagine it all 80 feet high. (The left side of the video shows what appears from one direction, the right side shows the view from the other side.)
I’ve been wondering how this figures into the fifteen minutes of fame that we’re told everyone is likely to be either looking forward to or looking back at.◊ The video is only 45 seconds long, but it will run in series with some other things every five or ten minutes for fifteen hours on two days each week for the next few months, and then will be in rotation with about one hundred videos each Sunday evening for the long term.
We could multiply those figures in a neat little equation, but we’d probably then have to divide by the fact that very few people know it’s me up on those huge screens (aside from you all, and my kids, and the handful of people who heard me make some bemused comments at the opening reception), so it’s anybody’s guess how many minutes will get marked down for this one in my column of the cosmic famousness ledger.
*Van Gogh painted his most famous work, Starry Night, from the east-facing window of his asylum room at Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. The video features elements of the painting, and takes its name from the setting.
†Seeing is all you get on the big marquee, but I don’t usually dance to silence–there was a soundtrack originally. A classical guitar piece by Don McLean called “Vincent” (played by Stephen Webber) accompanied the concert video, which you can see here. At the concert there was a dancer on stage in front for the first minute, so very little happens on screen; just close your eyes for a bonus meditation session. At the one-minute mark some very cool things begin to happen with the painting, then more of the dancing, followed by some stars, though not remotely like Dancing with the Stars.
◊The idea is generally attributed to Andy Warhol, who included the phrase in an exhibition program for a 1968 show of his work in Sweden. Apparently a photographer who had photographed Warhol a few years earlier claimed credit for its origin (trying to get started on his fifteen minutes, I guess). Wikipedia suggests the idea may be an adaptation of a theory by Marshal McLuhan (the fact that I’ve never heard of him doesn’t mean he hasn’t had his fifteen minutes–I may just be ill-informed). The whole idea certainly connects back to the Elizabethan idea of the nine days’ wonder. Do you suppose that since world population was so much smaller then, each person could expect a much longer turn in the spotlight?