James Benning and Peter Hutton’s exhibition Nature is a Discipline, presented by Miguel Abreu Gallery, documents humanity’s relationship to nature while invoking the aesthetics of color, geometry, and cinematic style from our surroundings.
At Sea presents the three life stages of a cargo ship - construction, operation, and deconstruction - while Three Landscapes creates a comparison of three scenes – salt miners, farm workers, and bridge workers - rather than a linear narrative like At Sea. Through repetition and constant movement of various objects and figures in each video, Hutton creates a visual pattern that is hypnotizing and also establishes a clear cinematic style for each scene. The silence in both videos are a welcome subtraction, as it forces viewers into recreating the soundscape in their head while being entranced in visual stimulus provided by the colors, geometry, repetition, and patterns.
Tulare Road is a set of three videos that captures highway activity in a rural part of California, each filmed during different weather formations. The differences in weather in each video create color and atmospheric contrasts, while the sound of all the videos remain relatively the same - cars being driven past the camera. Using these consistent sounds of vehicles being driven to or away from the camera, the videos successfully hold viewer's attention through the curiosity of randomness.
The exhibit was cohesive as a whole and did a good job of establishing its purpose of representing humanity's place among nature from an aesthetic point of view. The hypnosis-inducing aesthetics of all the videos were highly representational of Benning and Hutton’s proficiency as artist filmmakers.