Pagel, David. "There's no glamour, just deep themes," The Los Angeles Times, July 4, 2008.
Experiments move over to art
Pat O'Neill is an internationally renowned experimental filmmaker who, over the last few years, has been projecting his densely layered films in darkened galleries alongside, on top of and through a variety of found and handcrafted objects. His latest installation, at the Rosamund Felsen Gallery, is his most successful. Neither resolved nor polished, it's terrifically stimulating in its uneven, hit-and-miss experimentation.
O'Neill's untitled exhibition appears to be the offspring of a backwoods cabin and a laboratory where surveillance tapes are analyzed. The combination of beautifully carved, sanded and finished walnut, oak, pine, acacia, basswood and sycamore burl with beautifully shot, edited and scored DVD projections jars a visitor's expectations and suggests a pretty sophisticated sort of folk futurism. It's high-tech primitivism.
As a filmmaker, O'Neill never believed in technology for its own sake. He always used whatever gizmos he could -- often adapting them to do things never imagined by their manufacturers -- to capture life's cyclical rhythms: day into night, winter to spring, ripening to decay, death to regeneration. For O'Neill, recycling is not simply something you do with cans and bottles. It's the very pulse of the cosmos.
As an installation artist, he still is finding his footing. Some pieces fall flat. Others fall short of transforming repetition into the mesmerizing flow of his films. But many work brilliantly, blending old-fashioned craftsmanship and digital wizardry to show that real inventiveness never goes out of style.