Dreamlands: Immersive Cinema and Art, 1905–2016 at Whitney Museum of American Art, through February 5, 2017

Dreamlands: Immersive Cinema and Art, 1905–2016 explores the ways in which artists have used the moving image to articulate technology’s dramatic influence on how we see and experience the world. In a series of immersive works, the elements by which cinema is traditionally known—projection, film, a screen, darkness, linear narrative—are dismantled and reassembled in new forms that are, in some cases, barely recognizable as having any relationship to cinema at all. Our senses are engaged through color, light, music, and special effects like 3D, as well as textures and surfaces that we can touch, walk on, or move through, enabling us to step inside the projected image and become part of it.

When the body appears in this exhibition, it is always a technologically mediated presence. Cyborgs, anime characters, and artificial-intelligence avatars trouble the boundary between artifice and reality. Some works reclaim the body and technology from patriarchal control to consider multiple constitutions of the self. Others present science-fiction fusions of the human, natural, and technological, imagining unknown dystopian futures.

Dreamlands presents early experiments with cinematic space that jolt the spectator out of the conventions of seeing, postwar works that offer a darker and more fragmented experience of the moving image, and contemporary works that often exploit the infinite malleability of the digital image. Taken as a whole, the exhibition demonstrates how artists have long probed, even redrawn, the line between the real and the virtual to generate new meanings, identities, and understandings.” —  Introductory Wall Text

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After Oskar Schlemmer (1888–1943). Das Triadische Ballett [Triadic Ballet], 1970. 35mm film transferred to video, color, sound; 29 min. Courtesy Global Screen, Munich. Produced by Bavaria Atelier for the Südfunk, Stuttgart, in collaboration with Inter Nationes and RTB (Belgian Television). Director: Helmut Amann. Choreography and costume designs: Oskar Schlemmer, 1922. Artistic advisors: Ludwig Grote, Xanti Schwinsky, and Tut Schlemmer ©1970 Bavaria Atelier for SWR in collaboration with Inter Nationes and RTB.

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Trisha Baga (b. 1985). Flatlands, 2010. Video, color, sound; 18 min., with disco ball and 3D glasses. Collection of the artist; courtesy Greene Naftali Gallery, New York. Installation view, Greene Naftali Gallery, New York, 2011 © Trisha Baga and Greene Naftali Gallery, New York.

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Hito Steyerl (b. 1966). Factory of the Sun, 2015. High-definition video, color, sound; 22:56 min., looped; with environment, dimensions variable. Installation view: Invisible Adversaries, Hessel Museum of Art, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, 2016. Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York; Marieluise Hessel Collection. Image courtesy of the artist and Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York. Photograph by Sarah Wilmer.

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Alex Da Corte (b. 1980) with Jayson Musson (b. 1977). Easternsports, 2014. Four-channel video, color, sound; 152 min., with four screens, neon, carpet, vinyl composition tile, metal folding chairs, artificial oranges, orange scent, and diffusers. Score by Devonté Hynes. Collection of the artists; courtesy David Risley Gallery, Copenhagen, and Salon 94, New York. Installation view, Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, 2014 © Alex Da Corte; image courtesy the artist and Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania.

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Alex Da Corte (b. 1980) with Jayson Musson (b. 1977). Still from Easternsports, 2014. Four-channel video, color, sound; 152 min., with four screens, neon, carpet, vinyl composition tile, metal folding chairs, artificial oranges, orange scent, and diffusers. Score by Devonté Hynes. Collection of the artists; courtesy David Risley Gallery, Copenhagen, and Salon 94, New York. © Alex Da Corte; image courtesy the artist.

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Lynn Hershman Leeson (b. 1941), X-Ray Woman, 1963. Acrylic, graphite, and ink on canvas, 36 5/8 x 19 1/4 in. (93 x 48.8 cm). Collection of the artist; courtesy Bridget Donahue Gallery, New York © Lynn Hershman Leeson; photographs by Marc Brems Tatti; images courtesy Bridget Donahue Gallery, New York.

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Lynn Hershman Leeson (b. 1941), Double Drawing, 1966 (recto). Ink, colored pencil, transfer type, watercolor, collaged gelatin silver prints, and plastic on paper, 8 x 4 in. (20.3 x 10.2 cm). Collection of the artist; courtesy Bridget Donahue Gallery, New York © Lynn Hershman Leeson; photographs by Marc Brems Tatti; images courtesy Bridget Donahue Gallery, New York.

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Lynn Hershman Leeson (b. 1941), Water Women 7, 1978. Collaged photographs with mirrors on vellum, 13 1/2 x 8 in. (34.3 x 20.3 cm). Collection of the artist; courtesy Bridget Donahue Gallery, New York © Lynn Hershman Leeson; photographs by Marc Brems Tatti; images courtesy Bridget Donahue Gallery, New York.

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Wyatt Niehaus (b. 1989), still from Body Assembly – White Exteriors, 2014. Video, color, silent; 2:52 min. Collection of the artist.

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Adelita Husni- Bey (b. 1985), still from After the Finish Line, 2015. Video, color, sound; 12:53 min. Collection of the artist; courtesy Galleria Laveronica, Modica.

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Adelita Husni- Bey (b. 1985), still from After the Finish Line, 2015. Video, color, sound; 12:53 min. Collection of the artist; courtesy Galleria Laveronica, Modica.

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Andrew Norman Wilson (b. 1983), still from Ode to Seekers 2012, 2016. HD video, color, sound; 8:30 min. Collection of the artist.

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Jennifer Reeves (b. 1971), still from Landfill 16, 2011. 16mm film, color, sound; 9:00 min. Collection of the artist.

Dreamlands: Immersive Cinema and Art, 1905–2016 is organized by Chrissie Iles, Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Curator.

Images courtesy Whitney Museum of American Art.