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Les LeVeque's Hallucinatory Videos Expand the Boundaries of Perception
Les LeVeque, still image from 16Xohwhatabeautifulmornin, 2005, courtesy of the artist and Four Walls.
SAN DIEGO.- Les LeVeque’s second solo exhibition at Four Walls will feature the artist’s recent video re-edits of opening show tunes of Hollywood musicals. In this suite of four silent works, LeVeque simultaneously extends and speeds up iconic song-and-dance numbers by filtering them through computer algorithms that flip the Cold War-era Technicolor source imagery vertically and horizontally into bristling, hallucinatory kaleidoscopic forms.

LeVeque’s videos will play simultaneously in the Main Gallery on four high-definition monitors. The four works include: 32Xnewyorknewyork of 2008, a 150-minute re-edit of the 4.5-minute opening song from On the Town (1949); 32Xtwolittlegirlsfromlittlerock of 2006, a 42-minute version of the 1.3-minute song from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1965); 16Xohwhatabeautifulmornin of 2005, a 37-minute version of the 2.25-minute song from Oklahoma! (1955); and 16Xthehillsarealivewiththesoundofmusic of 2005, a 71-minute version of the 2.25-minute song from The Sound of Music (1965).

Sharon Lin Tay and Patricia R. Zimmerman note in a 2007 article in Afterimage that LeVeque “has spent the last decade exploring the idea of machine interface by mathematically reprocessing a variety of mass media forms, such as Hollywood films, advertisements, presidential broadcasts, and publicly televised hearings...through the use of gaps and fissures, durational strategies, rhythms...that remove chiaroscuro and depth...generating a conceptual shift from narrative to abstraction...emphasizing shapes, forms, colors, and textures as the interface of the work...moving media practice from the question - What does it mean?, to - What would happen if?...Algorithms function not as inscriptions or deconstructions, but as an alchemy to release the unexpected.”

The perceptual effects on the viewer of such machine-driven sensory excess are psychological and physical, disorienting and visceral. LeVeque’s progressive shifts from symbolically recognizable imagery toward highly structured imaginary forms have the most impact along their subliminal edge. For example, in 2 Spellbound of 1999, LeVeque’s re-edit of the classic Hitchcock psychoanalytic thriller into a condensed techno-dance piece, which was featured at Four Walls last fall, Rorschach shapes appeared to dance on the screen as a byproduct of algorithmic mirroring and horizontal doubling.

This recent work, on the other hand, is silent, longer, trance-like, and more challenging to read with the added dimension of vertical flipping of the source imagery, as the artist progressively expands his technical repertoire. As a result, the horizontal aspects of narrative motion are supplanted by quadrupled and self-referential vectors that appear visually nuanced and more elemental, like the rebirth of shooting icons and stars.

Les LeVeque’s work has been exhibited at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, the Whitney Biennial in New York, the George Pompidou Center in Paris, the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, as well as at Sundance and many other film festivals.

A screening of Canadian artist Ho Tam’s The Yellow Pages (1994), a 7.75-minute silent video that explores various perceptions of Asian cultural identity, will be presented concurrently in the Project Room for the duration of the exhibition.

Reinventing Ray Street, Four Walls presents exhibitions of local and international artists, which garner the positive critical attention of the San Diego Union-Tribune, Artweek, San Diego City Beat, El Latino, Riviera Magazine, Art as Authority, and other publications and blogs.



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