Review: Daniel von Sturmer’s video art: A delightful play on perception


Australian artist Daniel von Sturmer treats the video screen as if it were a canvas. Making small sculptures, paintings or drawings for the camera, he uses its flattening effect to play with our perceptions in subtle, often delightful ways. His largest U.S. exhibition to date at Young Projects is an exploration of the properties of everyday materials as well as the boundaries of the video medium.

In “The Cinema Complex (Sequence 1)” Von Sturmer stacks circular paper cutouts and blocks on a white surface that revolves like a turntable. They make a mesmerizing spiraling design whose dimensions and depth change with each added object. We are constantly reconciling how the image is constructed — we see Von Sturmer’s hand placing each component — with its appearance as pure abstraction.

More ambitious is the nine-channel installation “Camera Ready Actions,” displayed in a large, separate gallery. A maze of gray walls with window-like cutouts contains video works that play with the idea of framing, shooting through a rectangular paper cutout or blacking out the frame with tape. In reaching outside the video frame, Von Sturmer also frames the viewer, although the overall effect lacks the clarity of his smaller works.


Still, it’s remarkable how he manages to create magical spaces, where objects often defy gravity, without any digital manipulation. We are so used to experiencing the virtual world via screens. Von Sturmer returns us to the physical and allows us to see it anew.

Young Projects at Pacific Design Center, 8687 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 377-1102, through Aug. 29. Closed Saturdays and Sundays.