Review: Owen Kydd at Document (Artforum)

Archived at Artforum

   Owen Kydd, Windows and Walls , 2013, looped digital video.

Owen Kydd, Windows and Walls, 2013, looped digital video.

It can be startling to remember that only in the past decade have we had the capability to choose, on a single instrument, whether to capture a still or moving image; perhaps one of the most overlooked side effects of digital mediation is its convergence of machinery. Owen Kydd’s durational photographs, as he calls them, take advantage of this meeting and of the ambiguities of perceiving digital documentation, deftly occupying a third space between the static and the narrative and suggesting new potentials for hybrid documents.

In “Regular Colors,” three of Kydd’s gradual, sometimes imperceptibly changing videos of nearly-still-life objects and street scenes run dreamlike on a protracted loop. Two of the videos, Blue Studies and Windows and Walls (all works 2013), take as their dominant visual language retail storefront windows, hypermediated by scratched surfaces, reflections, ambient headlights, and shadows of unseen objects. Even images with less noise—such as palm trees softly fluttering under sky, torn fabric, and the textures of paint on buildings—become studies of surface, while also highlighting qualities of light and weather that are only accessible to consciousness when the images are slowed down. A third video, Window Study, takes this interest in perception a step further, in an illusionistic Photoshopped video collage containing individually edited, amalgamated videos of objects—a balloon, a pegboard, unrecognizable shapes—that sway and shift in different patterns, seeming, uncannily, to breathe. Crucially, the videos are impeccably executed, recalling the fanatical realizations of Vancouver School photography (Kydd has worked as Jeff Wall’s assistant) and pointing another way into the static cinematographic.