Nam June Paik's Good Morning, Mr. Orwell.
Nam June Paik's Good Morning, Mr. Orwell.

Free Your Mind, and the Rest Will Follow: Three Art House Joints on Texas Theatre

Now that television has, for the most part, settled into blessed respite for the next three months, the onset of summer designates an ideal moment to step away from that noise and to recharge one's sluggish mind with some cerebral health food. Making that ambition all the more attainable, The Texas Theatre routinely offers inexpensive and -- in tonight's case -- free opportunities to get back on the straight and narrow, for considerably less than that Netflix membership. Think of tonight's combination, Dallas Biennial - DB12: Volume 1C-Film -- the much anticipated film component to that little experiment last month -- as a fresh apple, kale, ginger and wheatgerm juice for the artistic soul.

Beginning at 7 p.m., the pro bono triple threat includes three short art house films and installations, in addition to "a special presentation of the sound work 'Peers' by Chicago based artist Lou Mallozzi." More after the jump.

Robert Smithson: Spiral Jetty

Humankind has proven itself so wonderfully and woefully adept at manipulating the natural world that we are often, and unreasonably, caught off-guard when the earth decides to return the favor. In a state of continual creation and destruction, fluctuating regeneration, Robert Smithson's

Spiral Jetty

-- a 1,500-foot-long contortion of mud, salt crystals, basalt rocks, earth, and water on the northeastern shore of the Great Salt Lake in Utah -- is ever subject to the capricious whims of Mother Nature.

Smithson constructed Spiral Jetty in 1970, and the enormous landmass' visibility has since depended on the climate -- in times of drought, viewers are able to walk along its trodden path, but rain and snow obscure the sculpture, sometimes for decades, beneath the sanguine waters near Rozel Point. Deconstructing the very ideas of "man-made" and "naturally occurring" landmarks, Smithson's jetty reminds us that beauty is not only within the eye of the beholder, but also she who is willing to look beyond the surface, into the unknown.

A prodigious undertaking, Spiral Jetty was completed in just six days time -- a poetic fact in and of itself -- and during its development, Smithson wrote and directed a 32-minute film, shot with the help of his wife, Nancy Holt. Smithson's careful documentation to decide for yourself whether it is we who create, or merely the earth creating through our vessel.

Nam June Paik: Good Morning, Mr. Orwell, Documenta 6 Satellite Telecast, and Lake Placid '80

Considered the first video artist, the late Nam June Paik was a Korean American Neo-Dadaist, influential in the Fluxus movement of the 1960s and '70s. Prepared for his first international satellite installation (and, presumably the first in the world), Good Morning, Mr. Orwell connected New York, Paris and South Korea on New Years Day in 1984. A rebuttal to 1984's dystopian prediction, Good Morning, Mr. Orwell celebrates the cutting-edge cross-cultural integration available from new technology, strikingly similar to Orwell's nefarious "Big Brother."

Running 38 minutes in color, Good Morning, Mr. Orwell features avant-garde performances by Allen Ginsberg, Merce Cunningham, Peter Gabriel and Laurie Anderson (as in the above-clip). As an historical artifact within the specific context of the now completed 20th century, the installation draws attention to the fact that, perhaps without Orwell's warning, the technology might never have been utilized by artists to break rules and stretch boundaries. As Orwell's protagonist Winston Smith reasoned, "Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they they have rebelled they cannot become conscious."

Artur Barrio: Situation T/T1 Video

Akin to Neo-Dadaism and Fluxus in its anti-establishment nature, Artur Barrio's Situationalist Art seeks to create an interactive experience, often through discomforting sensory overload, that is never finished, and that requires viewer participation. The materials he uses are not artifacts with inherent value, but instead the singular moment they orchestrate is what constitutes as art in Barrio's definition.

Situation T/T1 was created in 1970 as a response to Brazil's draconian military dictatorship, under which it was not unimaginable for Brazilian citizens to disappear. Utilizing "packages" constructed from blood-stained rags, Barrio placed them without explanation throughout a public park. It is not the rags, but the reaction of those who stumbled upon them that constructs Barrio's work of art -- a reaction of profound anxiety, an unspeakable sensation that so many "lost" citizens have finally been found. Barrio's documentation of their emotive responses before police arrived remains the only vestige of the installation.

Beginning at 7 p.m., Dallas Biennial -- DB12: Volume 1C-Film runs approximately 120 minutes. More details at texastheatre.com.

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