R. Luke DuBois: “Now” at OCMA


New York-based artist R. Luke DuBois is not only a master of the IT platforms of a wide range of media, including the Internet, music, performance, video and film, he has learned how to manipulate and combine these various media to create dizzying videos that address the inundation of images and sounds in contemporary society. Each piece in Dubois’ first solo museum survey show on the West Coast is an amalgam of several media, and reminds us of just how disconcerting our world has become. “The final result,” former OCMA curator Dan Cameron theorizes in the catalogue, “is not exactly pleasant, bordering on the painful.”

The 76-minute video Academy (2006) shows the Best Pictures from 75 successive years of Academy Awards, with each full-length film compressed into a single minute; this art piece progresses from early black-and-white movies, through Technicolor, into recent fast-paced ones. The underlying purpose of the video is to demonstrate how filmmaking has changed over the decades, while presenting this progression in a way that watching all of these movies (in real time over 10 days) would not. “Just as visualization helps us to make sense of the ‘facts’ of our world,” the artist explains in the catalogue, “art made with data lets us look critically at those ‘facts.’” Yet the intense compression of the individual films often renders them as incomprehensible, and indistinguishable from each other. The 60-minute (Pop) Icon: Britney (2010), a similarly formatted film of split-second images of Spears, clearly addresses the star’s public persona. As the wall label explains, the pop star has existed entirely within Auto-Tune and Photoshop, with all of her pictures and videos airbrushed to present a perfect icon, and with her “live” performances pre-recorded and lip-synced. This mesmerizing video trivializes the singer, presenting her to the world as the fake star that she really is.

Acceptance (2012), a high-definition video, is comprised of two screens, one of Obama, the other of Romney, with each giving his 2012 Presidential Candidate acceptance speech. Yet the words of their speeches are manipulated to periodically sound as though each candidate is mimicking the other. The most illustrative piece in this show, reflecting our media-rich world, is Sergey Brin and Larry Page (2013). Here, two screens display the respective Google co-founders being interviewed, while moving Google text and image searches, collected in “real time,” are superimposed over their faces.

R. Luke DuBois
DVD video, stereo sound
76 minutes; Edition 5 of 10, 1 AP
Photo: Courtesy the artist and bitforms gallery