Interior Deterious

Dave Greber and Andrea Ferguson
2012
Multichannel video installation, sculpture and drawings

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Excerpt from Reggie Rodrigue, A Pumpkin Pencil for the Soul: The Video Art of Dave Greber, PelicanBomb 2012
...Stemming from the mutually agreed upon theme of a deteriorating mind, Greber and Ferguson’s psychotropic palimpsest of an installation was one of the most innovative and imaginative exhibitions I’ve seen in New Orleans. The installation may have alluded to the state of being “bird brained” (birds and a bird skull figured prominently in the imagery), but its execution belied the sharp wit, intelligence, and experimental rigor of its creators. Ferguson provided most of the sculptural artifacts including the central piece: a raptor vomiting in mid-flight. 

Simultaneously macabre, supercilious, and just plain silly, it was as if Edgar Allen Poe made love to a felt-bird crafter on Etsy. This skewed perspective carried through the installation; however, it was Greber’s video contributions that truly activated the piece and the space around it.

Interior Deterious was Greber’s first serious foray into breaking the rectangular cage that has typically ensnared video since its inception. Although other video artists, such as Tony Oursler, have moved away from boxed-in video, Greber’s real innovation with the installation was his use of “stained glass video,” or Stasseo as he calls it. In this process, Greber creates “masked” videos by projecting images onto walls that have been painted black and then adorned with reflective bits of plastic or silver spray paint that correspond to the images. Greber’s Stasseo videos added another layer onto an installation that already alluded to video games, arcades, and pop design. One of these pieces, Bird Brain, exposed the fanciful thoughts of Ferguson’s raptor. Inside an over-sized painted bird skull, a person in a Mardi-Gras mask continuously types on a laptop in a sea of stars and spheres while electric ribbons issue from the laptop towards the bird’s beak. It recalls watching early cartoons that illustrate a character’s thought process with a mouse running inside a wheel—only in reverse. Here the human does the animal’s bidding. Greber’s other piece, Rise From Your Grave, depicts the artist asleep or even dead, slumped on a recliner. Streams of energy and lightning bolts, cans of beer or soda, and birds ascend to a large cameo of Greber staring at a levitating/revolving can in a light tunnel. Multicolored stars and spheres radiate out from the cameo like rays in the form of a theater’s seating plan. It’s enough to make one exclaim “Oh, La-Z-Boy in excelsis Deo!”

Greber’s Bird Brain and Rise From Your Grave, along with the other video effects and drawings he contributed to Interior Deterious, represent a summation of years of experimentation and toying with notions of the commercial and the spiritual. Since the inception of mass media (newspapers, radio, television, the internet, and advertising), the commercial and the spiritual have typically been viewed as mutually exclusive. In our century of constant mediation, this position now seems highly untenable. An escape from media to a space of spiritual purity seems less and less possible. One needs to look no further than the Catholic Church’s recent commercials advocating that “Catholics come home” to understand the importance of mediated spirituality today: it is the first major advertising campaign from the Catholic Church to recruit lapsed Catholics, many of whom have moved to other religions with more aggressive strategies to frame themselves as contemporary and in line with current values or have abandoned organized religion altogether. Greber posits that the way to a 21st-century spirituality lies through media while subverting it to one’s metaphysical ends. In the artist’s case, these ends are quite flexible and display somewhat of a deist bent. In Greber’s best recent art, the perspective of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Walt Whitman rubs up against that of Marcel Duchamp, Andy Warhol, George Carlin, and Steve Jobs.

Walk-thru of the "Interior Deterious" installation at the Front in January 2012.

Thanks:
Katie Gelfand, Seth Proost, Sara Mason, Jacob Edwards, Flynn O'Brien, Silas Breaux, Josh Knott, Kevin Jones, Srdjan Loncar, Phillipe Andre Landry

Doug MacCash of the Times-Picyune says:
Andrea Ferguson and Dave Greber's installation 'Deterious' at The Front gallery, 4100 St. Claude Ave. through Feb. 5 is one not to miss. One of the challenges of 21st century art is to reconcile our craving for digital magic and our nostalgia for old- fashioned tactile hand craft. The suite of January 2012 exhibits at The Front approach that dichotomy well. The best is the psychedelic installation by Andrea Ferguson and Dave Greber that seems to balance the two impulses perfectly while providing an eerily entertaining environment.