Samuel Chow’s unpredictable video mashes up scenes with dreamlike results.
SAMUEL CHOW at Craig Scott Gallery (95 Berkeley), to September 27. 416-365-3326. Rating: NNN
The Toronto International Film Festival is here, and for many film art fans, the stress of scrambling for tickets and managing overlapping schedules has begun in earnest.
Yet there's a different way to experience film, a more open-ended way that doesn't depend on a title sequence or a credits scroll to define its edges. It's more like a banquet of images you can step into for a while - whether that's five minutes or five hours - and step away from satisfied.
This is what comes across in Samuel Chow's I'm Feeling Lucky, the first of seven gallery-oriented film works in TIFF's Future Projections program to open this week.
Chow is best known for his 2003 vid Banana Boy, an award-winning reflection on Asian queer identity that eventually screened at New York's MoMA.
I'm Feeling Lucky moves away from identity, instead addressing issues of time and narrative. Chow created a computer program that presents dozens of video scenes in a random sequence. Not even the artist can control how his program screens all his scenes.
What comes across is a dreamy, atmospheric mood characterized by crashing waves, trembling leaves and speeding clouds.
Interestingly, many of Chow's scenes ultimately show contrasts between nature and culture - deer next to construction cranes, bees swarming bullets - juxtapositions that contradict the sense of calm.
It's a visual pool you can sink into, watching waves of imagery surge and repeat, surge and repeat, with an occasional move deeper into Chow's non-linear narrative.
The result is a work that can't be predicted, can't be rushed and has no start or end . Though some art videos in this vein can be torturous and tedious, I'm Feeling Lucky's visual chops succeed in making the viewer feel fortunate rather than frustrated.