Since creating his earliest works in the 1990s, Peter Sarkisian has continually explored the spatial possibilities of video projection. He produces installations that challenge preconceived notions of visual perception and redefine the role of video. Extruded Video Engine #5 merges video and sculpture. It was designed using 3D modeling software, which Sarkisian used to combine hundreds of film clips to form a hybrid object/image: a clinking, clanking cartoon in which snippets of text from recorded audio snake their way through a menagerie of machinery. The artist filmed Cold War remnants such as antiquated gears, pistons, flywheels, and ball bearings at the Los Alamos National Laboratory surplus facility in New Mexico to provide the source material for the clips, bringing to life the history of early technology.
Sarkisian’s ingenious explorations of technologies’ recent passing are astonishingly futuristic. However, what transports these objects into the forefront of modernity is not so much their technologically advanced presentation, but the culturally rooted texts that examine and reflect on the voracious media cycle of current events. The snippets of passing words in Extruded Video Engine #5 reveal the personal memories of Sarkisian’s family and friends. Their avowals include “but i in my youth had painful memories i’ve seen executions beheadings rapes people being tortured very horrible memories in my youth however somehow my father who escaped death seven times” and “and i noticed after staring down into it for some time that there was a large rattlesnake inside on the floor of this structure and it was eating a gofer and the gofer had already been ingested and it was just a lump in the snake’s belly.” The presentation of these phrases transforms them from deeply personal statements of experience into fleeting news headlines. According to Sarkisian, “the result is a parody of video itself and the circus that television has become.”
Object label from Videosphere: A New Generation, July 1–October 9, 2011