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VOOM PORTRAITS Robert Wilson at The Bass Museum of Art
Peter Stormare, Actor, 2004, Music by Michael Galasso Arranged by Peter Cerone,
65” plasma display panel with single unit stereo speaker and HD media player.

MIAMI BEACH, FL.- VOOM PORTRAITS Robert Wilson is an exhibition of provocative high-definition video portraits by epochal avant-garde artist Robert Wilson. These works were commissioned and produced by VOOM HD Networks, a US-based television provider devoted to high-definition television channels. The portraits of 26 people and animals are presented on large-scale HD plasma flat-screens, and include celebrities like Johnny Depp, Princess Caroline of Monaco, Mikhail Baryshnikov, and Brad Pitt. In addition, each work is accompanied by original musical scores.

An internationally acclaimed theatre icon of the world stage, Wilson's oeuvre spans from the ground-breaking Philip Glass opera, "Einstein on the Beach" (1976) and hip musical "The Black Rider" (William S. Burroughs and Tom Waits) to classic works of Shakespeare and Wagner's operas. In addition to being an avant-garde stage director and playwright, Wilson has experience working as a choreographer, performer, painter, sculptor, video artist, and sound and lighting designer. Beginning in 2004, Wilson began working as an artist-in-residence for VOOM HD Networks. Known for his theatrical productions, Wilson’s use of HD technology has taken his skills of manipulating light and creating dramatic environments to the next level by creating works that are a cross between photography, film, literature and sound.

The HD technology communicates Wilson’s poetic ideas in high-definition state-of-the-art clarity. Producing each portrait takes months to develop and the process includes set design, lighting, makeup and costumes. The dramatic and theatrical settings recall art history, popular culture, and are illustrated in stunning color.

An element of surprise is incorporated in each work with the use of movement. The subjects of these portraits are limited to subtle gestures--such as a blink or slight movement of a hand-- that are delivered in a very controlled motion. On first glace, the viewer sees a static image, and a sudden movement in the picture turns the viewing experience into something completely different.

The underlying themes of Wilson’s environments are often based upon plays and art history, and add a layer of poignancy to the portraits. In the case of the celebrity images, the juxtaposition of the star with the memory of a character in a play or historical figure creates clever and humorous vignettes that delve into the viewer’s memory, and often address the role of fame in the context of contemporary culture.

For example, the portrait of Princess Caroline of Monaco is reminiscent of her mother, Grace Kelly in the 1954 classic film Rear Window. In the Wilson portrait, Princess Caroline is posed in a similar fashion as her mother during a pivotal scene of the Alfred Hitchcock classic. The music that accompanies the image is from Vertigo, another famous Hitchcock film. The composer, Bernard Hermann, was well-known for his musical compositions for many Hitchcock films, as well as other films during that era. The carefully chosen music for this piece adds an element of heightened suspense and drama.

All the works in this exhibition are accompanied by sound, which include musicians such as Lou Reed, Tom Waits, Michael Galasso, and Big Black. The music is innovative and serves as another way these “still lifes” become “real lifes.”

These groundbreaking video portraits stand alone as a unique art form and illustrate Wilson’s broad experience and skills as a seasoned artist. The portraits are a departure from contemporary photography and video art in that they create an intimate, alive and engaging environment for the viewer. When asked about the ideas behind the images, Wilson states “They are personal, poetic statements of different personalities.”

VOOM PORTRAITS Robert Wilson will be shown in the Gertrude Silverstone Muss Gallery, the Henri and Flore Pavilion, Taplin Gallery, and the Lydia and Burton Harrison Café, juxtaposed with Splendor in the Bass: The Portraits from the original Bass Museum collection. These works may not be suitable for children under the age of 17.

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