I caught the 9:17 AM showing of Jennifer Steinkamp's Ring of Fire a couple of days ago. There were three of us in my group, and except for a couple of people washing windows and the staff at Paciugo's we were the only people in Victory Park. (What is with that name? Victory Park? Did we win something and I just missed it?) Victory Park is one of those “build it and they will come” urban developments. Also it is not by any stretch of the imagination a park. It is a would-be public square, anchored by the hideous pile of bricks known as the American Airlines Center on one end and the super swanky W Hotel across the street. I suppose that when there is an event there are a lot of people around, but when we were there it had an eerie, dystopian vibe.
Steinkamp's video plays on two 30 by 53 ft screens, actually four screens that come together. They roll silently on tracks on the second and third floor levels of the buildings that enclose the square. There is a soundtrack credited to Jimmy Johnson, but it was playing so softly that it added very little to the scene. Steinkamp's animated flowers cascade across the screens. They are very pretty, even luxurious in their hard-edged way. Towards the end of the five minute playing time, they suffer a kind of meltdown and get all blobby. But then they come back and they are pretty again. The two of us who were old enough to remember agreed that it had a seventies feel to it. Very trippy. But the audience at Victory Park is more likely to be high on a $150 lobster dinner from the N9ne Steakhouse than LSD.
Does this mark our final, gleeful capitulation to the Society of the Spectacle?
Well, maybe. But what a way to go. And the screens look great. They host a combination of art and advertising around the clock. You can submit your own videos to their website.