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Igor and Svetlana Kopystiansky's 'Yellow Sound' in 'Watch This!'

Friday, December 17, 2010; T16

A sub-theme of the evolving art forms in "Watch This!" is the evolving technology it takes to make and display them. The show features state-of-the art plasma screens, a VHS projector and something called Digital Betacam tape (transferred from old U-matic tape and playing on a restored cathode ray tube inside the shell of a vintage TV).

The nexus of medium and message is most apparent in Russian-born Igor and Svetlana Kopystiansky's "Yellow Sound." At first, it looks like a still photo. But it's actually video of found black-and-white film footage of a record spinning on a turntable, played in such excruciatingly slow motion that it doesn't appear to be moving.

What gives it away? Stare longer and you'll see occasional dust motes and scratches on the film. There are other allusions to the intersection of the antique and the avant garde. The work's title comes from an experimental theater piece by painter Wassily Kandinsky (published in 1912 but never performed during his lifetime). The running time of the Kopystianskys' video is an inside joke. At 4 minutes and 33 seconds long, it's a tip of the hat to composer John Cage's famous 1952 work - "4'33" " - which features exactly that much silence, and nothing else.

- Michael O'Sullivan

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