One wall-filling, high-resolution video projection shows a series of still photos of a rustic vista in the Hudson River valley, snapped every 10 seconds by a live Web camera set on automatic. Rather than presenting the world in video, as it passes us by, Staehle's piece gives it to us as a sequence of tableaux. He becomes a kind of high-speed Frederic Church. It's amazing what pleasure there can be in watching nature change -- or rather, in watching one man-made picture give way to an oh-so-slightly different view. A visit just at closing time showed crisply rendered Old Master vegetation fading to impressionistic black -- a Sanford Gifford sunset becoming a Whistler nocturne. Flattened out and turned into a glowing rectangle on the wall of a Chelsea gallery, even the most transparent, high-tech view of nature smacks more of old-time art than of the great outdoors.
In another video projection, Staehle has taken a single classic landscape view and animated it. By shooting an hour's worth of Niagara Falls -- shades of Church again -- and then editing it into an infinite, seamless loop with roaring sound, Staehle gives us both a chance to contemplate a single scene at leisure and to absorb that scene's dynamic flow.
It's the next best thing to being there -- no raincoat required. After all, who needs reality when mediation does the trick so well?
At Postmasters gallery through Oct. 16. Call 212-727-3323 or visit www.postmastersart.com.
For a look at the installation, visit this video clip.
In a show called "Replacement" at Sean Kelly Gallery, prominent Brazilian artist Iran do Espirito Santo dances on the edge between representation and minimal abstraction.
The gallery's main space contains a massive work made out of six wall-size panels, cut from honeycomb aluminum and painted white. They are the six sides of an unfolded box, and they are being shown in different configurations over the five weeks of the show. One week all six sides might sit on the ground, while the next week two sides might be standing up, with the four others splayed out flat. Espirito Santo's panels evoke the steel plates of heavy industry but also a delicate parcel folded from cardboard. There are hints of Richard Serra brutishness in them but also of the whimsical enlargements of Claes Oldenburg.
Another piece, installed in the gallery's front room, presents six plinths, each bearing a "light bulb" machined from a solid block of stainless steel and screwed into a white socket, standard-looking but in fact cut from solid Teflon. Espirito Santo's six faux fixtures exactly echo six working bulbs and sockets fixed on the ceiling overhead and lighting up the room. Each of Espirito Santo's objects reads as a strange alter ego to one of the room's real lighting fixtures: His turned steel gleams, but it is as massy and opaque as the real bulbs are light and incandescent. Lighthearted trompe l'oeil meets the taciturn, what-you-see-is-what-you-get ethos of minimal art.
At Sean Kelly Gallery through Oct. 16. Call 212-239-1181 or visit www.skny.com.
Video art has a reputation for being sober, even heavy-handed. The looped projections of Euan Macdonald -- born in Scotland, raised and trained in Canada and now based in Los Angeles -- take another tack. They are whimsical and resonant. They are more like lyric poetry than tracts. (A number were screened in Washington this August at Cheryl Numark's E Street space. The projections ran 24/7, so passing night owls could view them through the gallery's plate glass.) One video now showing at Cohan and Leslie gallery, called "Weltmeister" ("World Beater"), is titled after the logo emblazoned on the front of an accordion played by its lone hero. Over the course of the video's few minutes, the husky, gemütlich musician begins to play "The Star-Spangled Banner" at a normal pace, speeds up until the tune begins to fall apart, then veers into an unrecognizable vaudevillian fantasia whose notes barely cohere. This Weltmeister manages to have his way with the patriotic song of history's most powerful World Beater.
Another Macdonald classic shows the cracked pavement of a back street in a run-down Los Angeles neighborhood. A creaky ice cream truck pulls into view, with "It's a Small World" tinkling out over its loudspeaker. Within a minute or so, another truck appears, playing the same tune. Then a third one. A song that's about planetary harmony becomes cacophonous polyphony, all out of sync in a world all out of whack.
At Cohan and Leslie gallery through Oct. 9. Call 212-206-8710 or visit www.cohanandleslie.com.
For some reason only Freud could figure out, I have a fondness for knitted and crocheted art. This art world micro-trend is represented this season at Elizabeth Dee Gallery, in the first solo exhibition of New Yorker Orly Genger.
Genger makes peculiar abstract objects -- hard to say if they're sculptures, pictures or, well, sweaters -- that she's crocheted by hand out of yarn, elastic cord, metallic ribbons, even heavy rope. They have all the qualities of good abstraction: powerful forms and colors, interesting textures and compositions, an intense involvement with their materials and with the space they take up. But there's also an element of girlish play in Genger -- even of nose-thumbing -- that I can't resist. If a Jackson Pollock is all about the trace of the heroic artist's hand and psyche, an artist's handiwork is present in a Genger, too -- but it's the trace of a heroine, and of the kind of modest sensibility we've always labeled feminine.
At Elizabeth Dee Gallery through Oct. 9. Call 212-924-7545 or visit www.elizabethdeegallery.com.