TV REVIEW : Robert Wilson in World of Videos


It had to happen sooner or later. Robert Wilson, not content with operas, theater extravaganzas and private exhibitions, is getting into video. And judging by the evidence--his “La Femme a la Cafetiere,” the first of four works on the latest segment of PBS’ “New Television” (at 10:30 tonight on KCET Channel 28)--video could provide Wilson with a whole new language.

The post-modernist Texan, fond of enormous stage pictures and biblical time spans, restricts himself here to Cezanne’s painting, “La Femme a la Cafetiere,” and an economic use of gestures and animated intrusions in under 10 minutes. Kabuki performer Suzushi Hanayagi breaks her stoic concentration as she subtly notices the rude interruptions from the other side of the door behind her, while gulping down what look like green Gummi Bears. “La Femme” feels like an exercise for a fuller work, as if Wilson is getting his feet wet in the video pool, but he already understands the medium’s capacity for fractured visuals and humor.

Following Wilson, Betsy Connors has great fun with electronic mattes and the illusion of frames-within-frames in her “Vacation II.” Beginning with layered moving shots from trains and cars traveling in the countryside, Connors stages some crudely funky scenes with miniature plastic wildlife, and eventually ends up in outer space.

Videomaker Dennis Darmek and performance artist Mark Anderson bring us back to earth with the very dry “The Big Inning.” Anderson saunters about Milwaukee County Stadium as the Milwaukee Brewers warm up for a game, and imagines his own game with players names Franklin Roosevelt and Shimon Peres.