Though the Loyola University Museum of Art (LUMA) is located on Michigan Ave., its newest and most innovative exhibition is hosted in a remote location–cyberspace.
Closer by the Minute, a year-long installation hosted at LUC.edu/closerbytheminute, is a series of videos created by filmmakers and video artist husband-wife team David and Hi-Jin Hodge. Each month, through September, a new video piece will be released, exploring diverse personal, societal, and metaphysical interest, provoking questions about life and change through many perspectives and the video medium. Then, from September to December, all of the videos will be available together.
Pam Ambrose, director of cultural affairs at Loyola and director of LUMA, says she was first introduced to the Hodges’ work when they had an installation in the 2006 LUMA exhibition The Missing Piece: Artists Consider the Dalai Lama. The Hodges created a visual art experience that surrounded the viewer with a mounted display of video iPods, each playing a recording of someone talking about the idea of impermanence (Impermenance-Embracing Change). Ambrose, who says she ordinarily isn’t a fan of technological art, was intrigued and continued to follow their work. A few years later she found out about Closer by the Minute and was fascinated by the questions that were posed.
“The issues they deal with [are ones] that in contemporary society we ask ourselves a lot. Maybe now in this decade, more than any other decade [ever],” she says. “How do we want to be remembered? What contribution do we want to make in the world?…How do we remember things, events in our lives that have significance to us? And also the eternal question: how do we address our final days on Earth?”
“I saw these questions and the videos as a direct connection to the LUMA mission,” she adds.
Throughout the year, this online installation will feature videos that discuss diverse issues including love, oil dependence, competition, fleeting tourism, and death (to name a few). To kick off the exhibition, the January installation, titled How We Met features 30 videos of couples retelling the story of their relationship, from their first meeting to where they are now. February’s installation, I win, features David and Hi-Jin Hodge saying “I win” back and forth to each other in different fluctuations to the point, from the perspective of Ambrose, of negating the others’ winning, and provoking the question of what is being won.
But the installations won’t only feature interviews. June’s installation Watertime features a time lapse of the ocean outside the artists’ house (in the San Francisco area) with one shot taken each day of the same stretch of ocean for an entire year, providing a natural example of permanent change. Life on Wheels, the installation for September, explores our society’s dependence on the car, both as logistical transportation and integral cultural object.
“All in all, each of these nine questions explore and are metaphors for life,” says Ambrose. “They are extremely important.”
Ambrose initially thought to host the exhibit in nine rooms, with audience members watching one video then moving onto the next. However, she said having a video exhibition provides the opportunity for an atypical viewing experience.
“In this case the medium is the message,” she says. “If we were doing an [online] exhibition of paintings, what we would show is images in the exhibition with text. In that regard it is a replica only. In this case [Closer by the Minute], we are showing people talking that have been taped, through video and through film. It makes perfect sense that we would view it [online], in contrast to a sculpture or painting that would be needed to see in person, that couldn’t be experienced in any other way.”
In addition, she added this exhibition offers another way to address LUMA’s focus on spirituality, a contrast from the permanent Martin D’Arcy Collection that focuses on depictions of religious figures. Closer by the Minute provides a perspective that focuses on life questions, rather than dogma.
“The Hodges are great questioners, they ask great questions,” Ambrose points out. “You look at these videos, or the interviews, and you start to ask the questions yourself.”