If you see one 11-minute video this year, make it Michael Robinson's magnificent, hilarious, and terrifying Light Is Waiting (2007). The primordial, extreme slo-mo soundtrack is like a glitch mix from beyond the grave by DJ Screw. Robinson's seizure-inducing blasts of stroboscopic light rival those of the Austrian film experimentalist Peter Tscherkassky.
And I haven't even mentioned the Olsen twins.
Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen, that formerly pint-size pair of formerly perfectly interchangeable human products, are part of Light Is Waiting. Robinson uses episodes of Full House as source material. His video's first big punch line arrives after a two-minute unfiltered blast of the sitcom replete with laugh track, bad fashions, and Candace Cameron's feathered hairdo. Robinson's deployment of this clip is akin to a magician juggling TVs. He then mines the show's trip-to-Hawaii episode a colonialist trope that dates back past The Brady Bunch to another Robinson, last-name Crusoe (and that fires up a torch that's been passed forward into the Survivor era) in a manner so kaleidoscopic it's hallucinatory. A three-eyed John Stamos' version of "Rock-a-Hula Baby" turns into a Godzilla dirge, as his white-pantsed rump does the bump with itself. One Olsen twin becomes one two-headed Olsen twin, then turns into two Olsen twins forced to smooch each other.
Light Is Waiting exorcises American pop cultural demons via video the way Kenneth Anger did with film in 1964's Scorpio Rising. Rife with floral symbolism, Robinson's older studious excavations of the ideologies lurking beneath scenic landscapes don't have the same impact. He had a semi-breakthrough with 2006's And We All Shine On, where a karaoke instrumental of "Nothing Compares 2 U" yet more floral imagery, this time evoked via unsung lyrics magnifies the loneliness of video game vistas. The sardonic creep factor is akin to that of Bobby Abate's One Mile Per Min (2002), and it makes me wonder what a recent Robinson video I haven't seen, 2007's Victory over the Sun, does to Axl Rose.
SHINE ON: FILMS BY MICHAEL ROBINSON
April 27, 7:30 p.m., $6$10
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
701 Mission, SF
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