Another Dimension

Allapattah in 3-D gives a different image to Miami

If you're into fresh and original events, check out Sound Art Workshops (SAW) at the new South Florida Composers Alliance venue in North Miami. SAW, an effort lead by Gustavo Matamoros, mixes both aural and visual arts for events that are truly interdisciplinary. Recently I saw Lou Mallozzi's Usi Scrutati, a performance piece of spoken-word acts with noise and props (including turntable and flashlight). Then Mallozzi donned a mad-professor demeanor and easily moved through noise pieces involving feats of physical endurance. This time SAW presents Two Eyes -- Two Ears,featuring Iberian polyphonic repetitions by composer/piper Armando Rodriguez, together with artist William Keddell's most recent stereoscopic works.

Stereoscopy, or simply 3-D, refers to conventional photographs that appear to exist in three dimensions in space. For each picture in this show, Keddell shot two photos, each one showing the same scene from slightly different angles. 3-D requires that both the left- and right-eye view of an object be perceived from slightly different angles, then combined by the brain and interpreted in terms of depth and distances.

Photography and stereoscopy were a match from the beginning, says Keddell, a New Zealand filmmaker who has made Miami his home: "People had stereo-viewers and you could buy stereo postcards." Indeed stereoscopy was big in the late Nineteenth Century, when it was considered a new science. "People published all the animals of the world in stereo. Now astronomers and biologists are using stereo pictures," adds Keddell. "A question I have is: Why aren't artists exploring this medium?"

Out of the ruins of Bobby Maduro Stadium comes art about public spaces
Out of the ruins of Bobby Maduro Stadium comes art about public spaces

3-D is to photography what caffeine is to the brain: It enhances perception. But Keddell is careful not to dwell in 3-D trickery for its own sake. He deliberately produces meaningful scenes, and captures their beauty, in seemingly unlikely locations. He relishes the sights of an abandoned and ruinous Miami, places most people would rather ignore. "I shoot a lot in the Wynwood and Allapattah areas. It's a part of Miami that most people evade. To me such urban environment has its beauty," says Keddell.

At first these uncertain and desolate images may seem reserved. But after close inspection, I find them filled with an invisible, latent human anxiety. Though we don't see people, these are areas frequented and inhabited by a mass of people who remain outside conventional society. I like that Keddell introduces a soulful and luminous mood to this environment. With the help of a disposable camera, Keddell introduces himself as well, although he is camouflaged. Because he shot his images with superlong exposures (sometimes fifteen minutes), he could flash a second picture, of himself, during the exposure. In the end we only get the flashes, without Keddell, and so most of the pictures have an eeriness about them. Whether it's an old railroad track at night, mangled pieces of graffiti-covered concrete block, or simply an old hood's decrepit corner, his pictures' intrinsic quality is boosted by these randomly delicate spurs of light produced by the flashes.

The show's presentation is atypical. For each of the prints on the wall, Keddell provides his own 3-D versions, which can be seen using retro-looking viewers. By comparing the differences, we understand the stereoscopic effect (and, in addition, using a personal 3-D viewer results in a more private and thus more intense observation). In Track Marks #2one is surprised to find that an airplane has left a reddish serpentine trace in the dark sky, invisible to the unequipped eye. According to Keddell, Vous is a kind of 3-D drawing scheme in which a whole alphabet is suggested. Then there's the video The Demolition of Bobby Maduro Stadium, June 14, 2001, along with a series of photos of the stadium's interior. We see this once-famous roofed space -- curved and not sustained by columns -- filled with graffiti. Once a baseball landmark, Bobby Maduro Stadium remained abandoned for years, and Keddell's images make me think of ruins left behind not by an ancient civilization but by a current or even future one.

According to Keddell, who has worked with stereoscopy since the early Nineties, his art makes people aware of the spacial and geometric qualities of a certain environment, very much like the Japanese have done with gardens. "You walk into a Japanese garden and understand important things about time and space," maintains the artist.

The second feature of the night was Armando Rodriguez, a composer who has explored the sonic possibilities of the pipe. He opened with an effusive meditation on quartertone music, which found random harmonic resolutions. He then proceeded to explain and execute mellifluous Galician muñeiras and jotas (old Spanish dances) with the accompaniment of his son Mauricio on tabor, a traditional Galician drum. Keddell's art, as a backdrop to Rodriguez's sound, proved a unique amalgam.

 
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