Safety Belt

video installation
solo exhibition, Artists Space, 1996 New York City
Sound- Peter Scherer

“This is the first solo outing in New York for Angie Eng, a twenty-seven-year old video installation artist who is also a founding member of the live video performance collective, The Poool. In the last year, the peripatetic Eng appeared in numerous group exhibitions in New York and Tokyo, performed at the Knitting Factory, Sound Lab, and The Clocktower gallery as a member of The Poool, and curated an exhibition titled “Feed Fight Fuck” at the infamous Max Fish in New York City. She is also a visual arts educator in Chinatown.

For the Project Space exhibition, titled Safety Belt, Eng draws on a rich history of identity-oriented art that includes early 1970s performance and video art (Bruce Nauman’s Video Surveillance, 1969-70, comes to mind, as well as Peter Campus’s high tech projections involving audience silhouettes from around the same time) and Conceptualism’s self-conscious confessional mode, both of which are being mined extensively by young artists in the ’90s. Real time portraits of the audience have become an avant garde staple, often mediated through advanced technology, at least since minimalism.

In Eng’s installation Safety Belt, a video projection of a crowd entering a tunnel is thrown up on one wall, and security mirrors are mounted on the opposite wall. When the viewer enters the room, a hidden camera

"Pure Red", 1996 Artists Space

tracks his or her movements and projects them, in real time, onto the crowd in the tunnel. As with Campus’s video installation pieces from the early 1970s, and more recently in Diana Thater’s dizzying, impressionistic video installations, the viewer, simply in the act of viewing, modulates the work’s appearance. The presence of the spectator, then, is required not only for the installation to become activated, but for the piece to acquire meaning. It has become a special kind of genre that keys into larger investigations, ranging from the sociology of the art audience to philosophical notions of subjectivity.”

-Anastasia Aukman, Curator Artists Space 1996