Walking gently with Weintraub through Pedestrian takes us through her numerous screens into the less gentle chaos of the urban space. Greeted by the sound of a siren, the scene is already set and we are immediately pulled into the site by her request
"Extend your browser window to the width of the red line"and we are ready to join her through her icons of urban journey. This request immediately engages our attention and as we adjust our browser width to Weintraub's definition of our space we are already committed.
In her reverie of objects we are reminded of these icons or urban life... trash cans, advertising, street violence that makes up the human and mechanical iconography of city life.
"let yourself be seduced by surface. we own our objects, they own us"Weintraub implores and seduces by her fleeting images and quiet revelations. In her sub text we are nudged along the streets reminding all of us city dwellers that we are some how all held bondage to the grasp of urban experience.
Pedestrian is a worthy addition to the genre of "urban landscape" art that began with the Ashcan artists and continues down to the work of such photographers as Joe Rodriguez. The introductory line about "walking as meditation" is a reminder to slow down and look around, and indeed, the way the site unfolds, with the necessary downloading, it does rather recreate the feeling of disjointed observation on a nighttime stroll through the city.
I've been looking at lots of Stuart Davis images lately, and so I saw much of Pedestrian as related, though different. Davis would probably have loved "Swimming in Words" and also "Neon Nocturne" if he had lived in the neon age! The bright backlighted colors on the screen really make these images visually strong. The "urban postcard" is almost an homage to Davis's jumpy images full of signs. And the whole feel of "extravagant disorder" and "random poetry" seems to pick up on the way the city inspires a modernist reformatting of experience.
Of course modernism is out, I remember now. Well, the sections on "Bondage" and "Shrines" are clearly postmodern with their imagery of concealment, revealing, and display ... as well as in their multi-ethnic references. And the "Shoe Mortality" section with its parade of fetishistic footwear is nicely paced, though when I first saw the title, I expected to see those lone abandoned shoes that mysteriously crop up in the middle of the street.
As for how all this works specifically as art on the net ... my feelings
are mixed. It was fun exploring from home and at my own direction, yet I
couldn't help thinking that Taxi Driver deals in similar images and
ideas in a more powerful way ... why more powerful? Maybe because of the
music, or the narrative, or just the way the movies sweep you up and
massage your brain. So if television is the specter haunting video art,
will movies haunt net art?
Pedestrian...evokes the resonance of urban space through chance encounters with ordinary objects that have the capacity to trigger altered states of memory and reverie. "Walking" through episodic sections, such as "Reverie of Objects," "Neon Nocturne," or "Shoe Mortality," visitors encounter signifiers of the city as well as floating words and sentences that open spaces for meditation on the urban environment. "Pedestrian" is a navigable collage, a thick soup of signs, names, and brands that uses elements of the city's addictive machinery to create an almost contemplative space that makes the city feel magical rather than oppressive.