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Pipilotti Rist at the New Museum

Art Scene

Pipilotti Rist at the New Museum

Spanning three floors at the New Museum, Pipilotti Rist’s, Pixel Forest offers a magical interactive landscape of multimedia creations grounded in projection and video work. The innovative video installations includes triangular wall pods made for individual private viewing, a projection on the ceiling of the entire third floor, and floor-to-ceiling video playing on walls that span corner spaces.

The exhibition’s multifaceted viewing environment creates both a wondrous and disorienting sensory experience. For some, it may be like walking into a science fiction or fantasy novel, while for others, it might serve as an overwhelming reminder of the encroachment of technology on daily life.

Photo: Anders Jones

Stepping off the elevator on the second floor, flowing white scrims draped from the ceiling cascade across the room. The space, lit by images projected onto the fabric and a video piece in the far corner, is animated by a soundscape that includes piano, perhaps guitar, birds chirping, and what sounds like a lullaby tune. The images of flowers, blue waves, cats, yellow corn, green grass, and assorted earthy elements flow at a gentle pace and feel like filtered sunlight in a meadow, or refracted light in a photograph.

Photo: Anders Jones

The video in the far corner has a viewing area in front of it that includes a large biomorphic shaped rug with pillows strewn across – encouraging guests to lounge on the ground and get comfortable. Once viewers settle into a closer look and a more attentive listen, the innocent dreamscape quickly becomes more complex. What appears to be an easy-going narrative in the film – a woman in a feminine floral dress skipping down a European street or swimming through water, captured with an underwater camera – escalates into the breaking of car windows and other assorted oddities. The soundtrack on the speakers also changes, eventually turning its lullaby sensibility into a woman’s off key, somewhat screechy singing voice.

Photo: Anders Jones

More ethereal mayhem exists on the third and fourth floor. One of the most pleasing areas of the exhibition, located on the third floor, is a series of dangling strings with oversized organically shaped programmed LED lights. Seemingly designed to feel like walking through vines in a jungle, the installation resembles standard Christmas tree lights, but on a much larger scale, and is intended as an interactive space for museum guests to walk through. On the other side of this playful maze, a second large-scale video installation and viewing area awaits.

Photo: Anders Jones

Lastly, the fourth floor, another dimly lit expanse, is a room full of beds laid out underneath a vast ceiling projection of water, sky, leaves, water lilies, hands and more. Music that resembles childhood singing accompanied by piano envelops the space as well. Visitors are welcome to lie on the beds for an experience that resembles stargazing, but must take off their shoes first.

Photo: Anders Jones

Rist, a pioneer in video art and multimedia installations with 30 years in the field, clearly has an endless imagination. Interestingly, although the work is heavily linked to technology as its main medium, the exhibition does not feel futuristic, dystopian or alienating. Instead, viewers are swept up into a cosmic timelessness that could be past, present or future.