Originally put together for Art Basel Miami Beach, the largest contemporary art fair in the United States, Thermostat is a looped program of short videos by filmmakers who either live in or have spent considerable time in the Pacific Northwest. The nineteen short videos (most are 3–5 minutes long) offer a brief snapshot of the great variety of approaches taken by regional artists, but all reflect a distinctive Northwest flair.
Many of the works were shot in natural locales, revealing the artists' intimate engagement with nature, yet their sense of irony and awareness of cliché keeps these sites on edge. So do the filmmakers' choice of soundtracks, often local music, rock or grunge. Portrait #2: Trojan, by Portland-based Vanessa Renwick, shows the decommissioned Trojan Nuclear Power Plant looming over the Oregon countryside until it is demolished by a series of small explosions, synchronized to an original score by Sam Coomes of the band Quasi. Ron Tran set up electric guitars and drums in a park and covered them in bird seed, enticing pigeons to produce the accidental music documented in The Peckers. In Long Beach Led Zep, Kevin Schmidt performs “Stairway to Heaven” on pristine Long Beach in British Columbia.Thermostat: Video and the Pacific Northwest is on view in the Ketcham Forum Gallery, a space dedicated to video installations, located south of the Ticketing Desk on the Second Floor at SAM Downtown.
–Michael Darling, Jon & Mary Shirley Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art
*Please note that some films contain violent content. Parental discretion is advised.
Still from Portrait #2: Trojan, 2006, Vanessa Renwick, video, 5:00 min, Courtesy of the artist and PDX Contemporary Art, Portland