It's a Thursday night in Expo Park and a quick duck into the Amsterdam Bar accidentally becomes an art experience. A small group has gathered on the sidewalk in front of Beefhaus (833 Exposition Avenue) to watch a projected video of lobsters staring back at them. It's part of Gregory Ruppe and Jeff Gibbons' video series Pure Duration, which they describe as an exploration of moments they've experienced both individually and together. But if you're searching for specific answers about why the first video was a lobster tank at a grocery store, stop searching. This is about viewer experience, perspective and interpretation.
Through June 28 every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night from 9 p.m. to midnight a different video plays on the screen outside Beefhaus. The series, titled A Beetle on Its Back, kicked off with "King of the Dipshits," a five minute loop of something familiar and yet so foreign.
The lobster tank at a grocery store is a childhood captivation; it's where snot-nosed youngsters learn about the food chain, while mom picks up a pound of turkey from the deli. And while there's something tragic about the claw-bound crustaceans, it can feel almost playful to watch the one living creature in the store. Standing outside the gallery gazing on large lobsters, as they restlessly move through the tank, Gibbons and Ruppe cast a fresh eye on this relationship. And as the video loops, it's easy to watch it over again, impressing upon the lobster human thoughts and emotions. According to the artists, that each viewer would draw personal connections from the videos is the point. Each artistic experience is meant to be individualized. As such, the project - while a video series - is only serial in relation to the times that each visitor is present.
What's happening in Expo Park is at once rich with meaning, yet inherently simple. What you walk away with is purely up to you. Of course, you'll have to be present to form an opinion of your own. This is just part one of the project by Gibbons and Ruppe. When I ask what/when is part two, they reply that all they can tell me is that it will happen in a place called Kokomo.
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Here's the full schedule for Pure Duration: A Beetle on its Back: June 12: King of the Dipshits June 13: Silly Putty Dancer June 14: Untitled (Weihnachten im Dreikönigskirche) June 19: A Beetle on Its Back June 20: Untitled (Natsu Matsuri) June 21: Stray Dogs June 26: ILQNQLQL June 27: Tacoma Narrows June 28: Smithsonwater®