Jennifer Steinkamp, a nationally touring retrospective exhibition organized and circulated by the San Jose Museum of Art, offers a comprehensive view of one of the most important and prolific female video and new media artists of our time. Steinkamp creates stunning 3-D installations that explore architectural space, motion, and the phenomenon of human perception. Fusing abstract painting, computer animation, sound, and film, her unique approach and distinct imagery create an awe-inspiring experience that balances between the virtual and the real. Although technology may play an integral role in the genesis of each work, Steinkamp seamlessly merges her materials with the result being a mix of technology, magic, and color that often adopts a painterly aesthetic. Influenced by the work of Minimalist light artists such as Dan Flavin, Robert Irwin, and James Turrell, she aims to defy spatial confines and obliterate the existing boundaries between the object and the viewer. By removing this layer, her work relies greatly on inclusion of the viewer and his/her complete immersion into the space.
While Gallery Members might already be familiar with two Steinkamp works that have been entered the Permanent Collection since 2004 — Untitled, 1993, and Dervish I, 2004, this exhibition features eight other stunning installations completed between 1995 and 2004, including Wreck of the Dumaru, 2004 — one of Steinkamp’s largest and most technologically ambitious works to date. This massive installation seeks to recreate the majestic beauty, yet powerful ferocity, of the sea by synchronizing four video projections to create a panoramic, animated seascape. As one stands before it, one is engulfed in the fury of rolling waters that swell and subside against the backdrop of an expansive blue sky. Bordering on the periphery of a psychedelic and terrifying experience, Wreck of the Dumaru recreates the experience of what it must feel like to be a shipwrecked sailor.
Holly E. Hughes