While bright fall sunshine warmly lights the exterior of the Walker Art Building, a more sinister atmosphere grabs hold inside. The new media exhibit,"Errant Behaviors," by Chicago-based artist Anne Wilson, is a macabre personification of those forgotten bits of fabric at the bottom of a sewing kit.
Set to haunting sounds reminiscent of creaking wood and microphone feedback, Wilson uses stop-motion animation to give a haunting personality to otherwise mundane objects. The two screens that make up this exhibit loop through a myriad of interesting yet absurd motions. Wilson's main subjects are small pins, bits of lace, and black thread that are all choreographed to interact with one another in a way that reflects Wilson's dark sense of humor. Cultish in their actions, these small objects are a messy meditation on Gothic themes. The stark lighting of the media reel highlights the intensity of the movements and the jerky awkwardness that Wilson employs.
"It's very interesting. I keep viewing it in terms of human motion despite the fact that they are inanimate objects. It's very disconcerting," a museum patron said.
In one scene, an unraveling thread takes on the noise of a piece of wood straining under immense weight before it snaps. In another, thread is wound tightly around pins reaching out toward one another in a grotesque, grasping manner. Wilson continually comes back to the image of bits of tangled lace converging on one another in a seemingly random tower of black shapes. In the most disturbing image, hundreds of pins gather together at the center of the screen in a teeming, pulsating mass that reminds the viewer of a hellish pin cushion. Many images also imitate scenes found in nature; one in particular takes on the shape of a teeming jungle.
On her Web site, www.annewilsonartist.com, Wilson describes her work as "the props of both domestic culture and larger social systems. I join together the points where these systems overlap, and where issues of sexuality and decorum, vitality and death construct meaningful relationships, and find release."
A world-renowned media artist, Wilson has tenured exhibits at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago and the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa, Japan. In addition to the sewing scraps in "Behaviors," Wilson also uses hair as a medium. In one of her most abstract pieces, rotating human participants wound neon green thread through a weaving warp in a downtown Chicago gallery.
The Media Gallery, a unique portion of the Walker Art Museum, has hosted many modern artists and is highly regarded among museum staff.
"Media art has been so dependent on the technological innovations of the 20th century. It is really a very current genre and offers our visitors opportunities to explore the themes and concepts put forth by our artists in very interactive and relevant ways," Curatorial Assistant Kacy Karlan said.
"Media installations introduce some contemporary punch to the museum programming," she added
Wilson's work is an example of technology-ridden art, but one that also invokes thought and emotion. "Errant Behaviors" will be on display in the Media Gallery in the Walker Art Museum until January 18, 2009.