Justin Weitzel has spent a lot of time on YouTube. The Highland Park-based artist once worked for an Internet start-up where he regularly sifted the Web to find intriguing music, culture, sports and other videos to showcase on the company's site.
It comes as no surprise, then, that he would organize an evening of artist-selected Internet videos at South of Sunset, an alternative art space run by Elizabeth DiGiovanni and Megan Dudley in Echo Park.
For the presentation, which drew roughly four dozen people to the gallery Thursday night, Weitzel gathered videos by roughly two dozen artists that covered that amazing online continuum that begins with cats and ends with everything else.
Among the most popular videos of the evening were the trippy/ridiculous "Pizza Cat," submitted by photographer Patrick Pattamanuch, as well as "Death and Grief," a cascade of emoji set to a swell of sad music sent in by historian and curator Claire de Dobay Rifelj. But Weitzel's personal favorite consisted of vintage footage from some random bar mitzvah, showing a kid getting down to Madonna's "Vogue." That video was submitted by artist Megan Noelle Low.
"It's amazing," says Weitzel. "He takes off his jacket, throws it over his shoulder and reveals this portrait of Madonna spray-painted on his back. Everyone just starts to cheer." (It is, indeed, awkward and engrossing.)
For Moment of Friday, Weitzel chose another wonderfully absurd piece of video (shown above): a vintage ad from Japan for Sony by photographer Kazumi Kurigami that shows an elephant bopping to a boom box with the ocean as a backdrop.
Kurigami is known for his commercial and fine art photography, as well as his offbeat ads, showing Faye Dunaway eating a hard-boiled egg or Paul Newman drinking coffee while wearing different mustaches.
Weitzel says the elephant commercial is the sort of video he could watch every day. "It's such a weird way to create brand identity," he says. "You don't see commercials like that anymore."
The next event at South of Sunset is "Inertia," an evening of experimental chamber music organized by Kevin Taylor, on July 6 at 7 p.m., 1218 W. Temple St., Echo Park, southofsunset.la.