In “Paragina”, taken from Antonionni’s “L’Avventura” several people on a boat look out over the sea. All seem lost in their own thoughts. One however looks at us, a face in a side mirror. We do not see the full body, just the reflection of this hidden figure who spots us looking. It is jolting when one sees him at first, this other’s gaze on us.
It is a surprising reaction. We should, by now, be accustomed to faces on screens looking back at us, talking back even. The screen once solid as the back wall of a cinema has become a portal and we have all long since entered, running with Alice through the Looking Glass. Yet, there it is, surprise.
Perhaps it is the mode Wlasenko employs, a form as old as cave painting, dust on a finger, a drawing, on paper, old media long since relegated to the purview of artists, not one we expect to hold surprise but here is this artist, this cave painter, Plato’s Cave painter, and there is that unease when the shadows on the wall turn to face us. The old made new, our past having caught up with our future.
In “Following Metropolis” Wlasenko’s subject is a group who have just finished watching Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis.” They are watching the film projectionist close down the film, the projector faces us. We are the projected, we are Lang’s imagined future, realised. Lang’s reel time is our real time. The crowd looks away from us, and we look down the lens of the projector and we walk away, from them, each of us, us, them, into an imagined future of our own making, to be caught one can imagine given the times, on camera.
Olex Wlasenko's "In Reel Time" runs until 29 April 2018. He will give a talk at 2 pm on Wednesday Apr 4 on Canadian art works which appear in Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining."