Sunday, December 11, 2016

The First Viewing of Dreamlands

The Whitney Museum’s website informs potential visitors that Dreamlands: Immersive Cinema and Art, 1905–2016 will “connect different historical moments of cinematic experimentation” with films that span more than century.
    The first film I came to was Edwin S. Porter’s Coney Island at Night. Filmed in Brooklyn in 1905, is full of filigree and sparkle.  Due to technological limitations at the time, it is a silent film. The combination of the filmed lights at night and the silence results in a quite appreciation of spectacle.  An interesting augment to the quiet pageant of this 111 year old movie is Oaskat Schlemmer’s Dar Triadische Ballett from 1922 and restated in 1970. The bright colors and occasional music in my side vision from Dar Triadische Ballett as I watched Coney Island at Night gave me more of an appreciation for the older film’s silence.    
    Entering the next room I came to Stan VanDerBeek’s Movie Mural from 1968. It is a collage of newsreels, glass slides, projected drawings, found film footage, and some of the artists own experimental films. This is all projected on multiple screens and surfaces. It is a lot to take in. As the films in the previous room affected my frontal vision and my periphery, VanDerBeek’s work was a relentless assault on my audio and visual senses. I was left with feeling of over-stimulation and wondering if this is what we have come to expect from our media.
    The Whitney seemed to have an answer for the modern fractured attention-span with many other films and film installations scattered throughout the floor.  There are 38 in all. Some can be seen with the music and light of other, unconnected films influencing the viewer. Some are standalone immersive movies with entire matching theme rooms built around them. Each work is engaging in a unique way and is impossible to view them all in completion in one visit. Dreamlands: Immersive Cinema and Art, 1905–2016 is a show to see again and again.


  1. I really like your interpretation of this exhibit, and how you relate it to the hectic and overwhelming nature of our media consumption as a society today! It's a very apt description of the experience. The only real changes I would make are some small spelling and grammar issues, such as the word "quite" in the second paragraph. You could also maybe think about comparing and contrasting the vastly different ways audio and visual experiences were investigated throughout the exhibit. Otherwise, I thought this was a really great description of the feeling of the pieces you chose to talk about!

  2. I think that the start of your review could give a clearer sense of how the show is generally structured, specially because it is such an overwhelming, expansive exhibit. Your ending sounds a little bit critical, which maybe you could push more.

  3. I enjoyed your review of the exhibit in the Whitney. I do however believe that your first paragraph should be expanded to more than just the one sentence. When you state that the website informs visitors that they will “connect different historical moments of cinematic experimentation”, this would be a good point to state your conviction of whether or not they delivered on their promise.

    The second paragraph had some minor grammatical and/or spelling corrections needed. For example, your second sentence could use the either the word “it” or the words “the film” before “is full of filigree and sparkle”. However, your descriptions gave a good visual and emotional representation of what you experienced. Your conclusion that it was impossible to view the entire exhibit in one visit was spot on and gave a good sense of the expansiveness of the exhibit.