Think of it as an alternative delivery system for visual art. After strolling through Art 1999 Chicago at Navy Pier, staring at motionless images in gallery booths, you can visit "Ret.Inevitable 1.5: Cinema at the Crossroads," a videotheque erected in an upper-level conference room. Inside a white spandex tent sit two dozen foam recliners where you can swivel around 360 degrees and absorb two simultaneous series of short videos ranging from Beatles Electroniques (1966-'69) by avant-garde pioneer Nam June Paik to more recent work by UK artists Hexstatic. Ten 16,000-lumen projectors will beam 9-by-12-foot images on the white walls while an infrared wireless headset feeds you the sound tracks. Standing outside the tent, you can view the reverse images and listen to an ambient music score by the duo Terceira.
"Ret.Inevitable 1.5" began as a five-hour program of 60 videos staged last June in the anchorage of the Brooklyn Bridge by FLMSCL, a New York graphic-design team whose credits include the posters for Happiness and Boogie Nights. "The world didn't need another traditional film festival where people file into a theater and sit in rows and watch a couple hours of films," says Adam Levite of FLMSCL. "We wanted to do something that really suited the short film as a format."
Levite and his partners, Francine Hermelin and David Levine, named their "immersive" venue after Andy Warhol's 60s multimedia happening, the Exploding Plastic Inevitable. "There are so many undergrounds for people of my generation," Levite explains. "A music underground, skateboard undergrounds, cultural undergrounds. I see a sensibility I think we all sort of share: trying to break down old barriers of 'I'm a filmmaker,' 'I'm a photographer,' 'I'm a designer'--all those things. I'm seeing a more hyphenated existence."
Those who want to get hyphenated can experience "Ret.Inevitable 1.5" on the second floor of Navy Pier's Festival Hall during Art 1999 Chicago. The videotheque's designers, curators, and architects will hold a symposium on Saturday from 2 to 4. Admission to "Ret.Inevitable 1.5" is included with tickets to the fair, but no one under 21 will be allowed in. For more information, see Friday below or check out the art listings in Section Two. Call 312-587-3300. --Bill Stamets