If green is a sacred color, which shade is the holiest?
Emerald? Turquoise? Lime?
That's just one peculiar question prompted by "1997/2013," an installation of light and video by Viennese artists Richard Hoeck and Heimo Zobernig. Fluorescent tubes overhead and in simple fixtures casually leaning against corners bathe the Meliksetian Briggs Gallery in green light. A 1997 Sony Trinitron on a table and a new flat-screen on a wall play similar abstract video-loops.
A bright screen in monochrome green lasts for 10 or 12 seconds, and then the artists' faces briefly flash on. Their eyes glow crimson, like the red-eye produced by a flash bulb, before the screen goes monochrome again.
The video monochrome shifts steadily through the spectrum, adding colors to the original green and growing progressively darker, each 10- or 12-second chunk interrupted by the staring portraits. An abstraction of mortality -- a fade to black -- it is also redolent of green-screen technology, the special effects method for layering separate video streams into a fictive whole.
Perhaps it holds other connotations. Hoeck and Zobernig originally made the piece for the Istanbul Biennial. Turkey is a Muslim country and green is a sacred hue. (It was the prophet Muhammad's favorite.) The audio consists of an insistent droning sound, reminiscent of a call to prayer.
The result is emphatically secular, but the environment is thoroughly hypnotic. Minimalist repetition creates a strangely spellbinding milieu, one that is soothing in its harmonies and unnerving in the potency of its grip.
Meliksetian Briggs, 313 N. Fairfax Ave., West Hollywood, (323) 828-4731, through Aug. 22. Closed Sunday-Wednesday www.meliksetianbriggs.com