If you are old enough and fortunate enough to have grown up watching home movies on film, as I did, Portuguese artists Joao Maria Gusmao and Pedro Paiva’s installation of 10 16-millimeter films will strike a chord of nostalgia.
The darkened, angular space at REDCAT is filled with the whirring, clicking and flickering of real film projectors. The short pieces, running simultaneously on loops, are arrayed around the space like paintings; the effect is both stunning and a bit disorienting, like entering another world.
Most of the films were shot during a residency in Okinawa, yet the artists were not interested in standard tourist imagery. The moments they capture, often shot in slow motion, are more or less banal: leopard-print fabric spinning in a washing machine, a child playing in a public fountain, a group of people tending to a graveyard.
“Sleeping in a bullet train” depicts slumbering commuters as the landscape slides by outside. The train seems to progress at a normal clip, but then you realize the scene is in slow motion: a privileged, otherworldly view of impossibly still people and a landscape that would otherwise be a blur.
The show asks us to slow down and focus on a particular moment, and to contemplate the way that moment intersects with others. The medium of film gives the whole thing a physical presence that video could not; it feels like life.
Gallery at REDCAT, 631 W. 2nd St., (213) 237-2800, through Sept. 20. Closed Mondays. www.redcat.org