Volume 94, Issue 74

Friday, February 2, 2001


A good looking rock band
Handsome Devils roll into town

A great debut from Manson's proteges

Art boasts millennial visions

Art boasts millennial visions

By Jeff Warren
Gazette Staff

We expected the end. We expected it to all come crashing down, especially those of us who filled ourselves at the prophetic buffet served up by popular media. But why?

David Hoffos' interactive art exhibit, Catastrophe, shows viewers that millennium fever was nothing more than sensational forms of seduction and destruction which we all enveloped.

If anything, his exhibit is deliciously guilty of illustrating with subtle precision, the failings of a society intent on consuming whatever passes across its collective television set.

In one portion of the interactive exhibit, video projections of airplane crashes and natural disasters are juxtaposed onto a floor-to-ceiling screen – a larger than life testament to what leads off the six o'clock news. The aggravating irony is that we can't escape the constant assault of these unsettling images, even though we may not really want to.

This is, however, the beauty of Hoffos' work. Viewers who draw their attention away from the large screen will realize they are not alone. They become just as involved in the piece as the projected characters. One in particular even glances in the direction of the audience. This is the strongest part of Hoffos' work and perhaps the most important – the inevitable discovery that you, a member of the audience, are part of the problem.

The second portion of Hoffos' exhibit deals with the tragic result of the disastrous images. Using hidden cameras, mirrors and video projections, Hoffos has created a miniature community resembling an apocalyptic wasteland.

By way of visual effects, survivors inhabit this wasteland in an effort to clean up or to ponder the extent of the damage. Surprisingly, one of these survivors is the viewer, finding themselves standing amid the destruction, taking it all in.

Much like the first portion of the exhibit, this second involves the viewer in such a way as to suggest their problematic role in the whole absurd notion of media-created prophesies. We see the wasteland and we are a part of it, but how large a part did we play and what can we do about it? Clearly, the wasteland is the world we have created by consuming these catastrophic, mediated visions, and not the result of these visions.

Hoffos' exhibit is itself quite chaotic. The artist's work is presented in total darkness, the effect of which works in two ways. First, it draws your attention to the flashing images on the large screen, and second, it leaves the viewer searching to find their bearings. This presumably innocent use of presentation comments on the cohesiveness of the exhibit.

The overall effect of Hoffos' work is the need to question media seduction and differentiate real chaos from illusory confusion. Millennium hysteria has come and gone and we now know that the world is not going to end with a bang.

What we do know is that the seduction of mediated, apocalyptic visions have the power to foretell a different demise of the world – that of a whimper.

David Hoffos' Catastrophe is part of the Not with a bang... exhibition, showing now at the McIntosh Gallery until Feb. 18.

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