Images Extract Visions from the Common Place

“Across Time” is a successful, new interactive video installation commissioned from Chicago sculptor Lincoln Schatz by the Spertus Museum.

It’s on display in the first of two places it will be sited, in the current Spertus lobby. The piece will, among other things, record the construction of the Spertus’ building to the north, where it will move upon the building’s completion in 2007.

Two abutting video screens now hang from the ceiling. They record and display images from two cameras, one of which is attached to the monitors in the lobby, the other to the Spertus’ roof. Viewers’ movement in front of the screens activates the work, which randomly projects live images that are combined with footage retrieved from the present day as well as the past.

The combination of scenes inside and out is achieved largely through superimposition and fades. The images themselves are soft, hazy and pale-colored. This looks anodyne, though its easy gratification is a way of drawing viewers into a layering of time that requires some effort to sort out.

At present, the database has stored recordings only since groundbreaking for the new building on Oct. 9. So only a few memories repeat.

However, as the project goes forward, more and will be stored, with repeats becoming less frequent. As the museum grows, so does the complexity of the piece, demanding it be seen again and again.

At 618 S. Michigan Ave., 312-322-1747.

By Alan Artner, Tribune Art Critic

The Chicago Tribune | October 21, 2005

© 2005 by The Tribune Company