Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Jym Davis "White Space" 2004

I posted this video earlier on in the semester, when we explored "body" art. When I thought of what I could show for Christian/Vital art, this is the first piece that came to mind.

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Black and white forms and an eerie roaring sound begin this video, and then an extreme close-up of a man covered in a chalky-white substance emerges on the screen. This is Jym Davis, the artist of this piece titled White Space, which was created in 2004. This particular video is about the creation of man, and the dusty-white chalk is representative of the dust God used to create man as prescribed in Genesis, the very first chapter in the Bible. Though traditional themes are used in this film, they are presented in a manner that reflects our current technologically advanced society. In his artist statement, Davis writes, “My art reflects my interest in the way we deal with mystery in a scientific era, exploring how the fantastic fits into contemporary culture. My influences come from a variety of story-sources: Norse mythology, The Old Testament, and tales of folkloric revenants from Eastern Europe. I’m exploring the ways these archetypes interact with a new generation.”

Davis has received his Masters of Fine Art degree from the University of North Carolina in 2003. A rapidly emerging video artist, Davis has already made over nineteen videos, each revealing his interest in science, music, the human body, skin application, water, fire, and light. He masterfully combines these elements in a way that questions our understanding of life, death, and human existence in general. Where exactly do we come from? How did we get here? The ghost-like white face emerging from the pool of milky water and the fragmented sounds of machines in the background might suggest the fractured knowledge we posses as humans from a myriad of sources. Indeed, White Space uses scriptural text and other mythological accounts of creation such as those found in Ancient Near Eastern stories of creation from water.

In essence, Davis explores the human vitality linked between old and new traditions. In Independent Exposure Davis states, “My work blurs the boundary between traditional studio practice and emerging digital technologies while exploring such far reaching issues as science fiction, spirituality, and the human body.” As evident of his other films, many of the actors Davis casts in his works are covered paint. For instance, in another video called Peel a man and woman are shown covered in dry silver paint which they slowly peel off each other in an “intimate ritualistic” fashion. David’s work is also said to be “…influential of David Lynch as well as the repetitious music of minimalist composers Philip Glass and Steve Reich can also be seen.”

Davis exhibits his works throughout the east and west coast, Germany, The Netherlands, Austria, and Lithuania. As depicted in the end of White Space, a release of what appears to be red blood spreads across the screen and the pounding sound of a heart-beat becomes prominent. The pulse instantly stops, and celestial sounds are introduced. Did “Adam” just die and go to heaven? We are left to ponder the feelings evoked from this paradoxically apocalyptic rendition of human emergence. Perhaps it is actively prompting us to probe more deeply the gap between our own religious beliefs and natural human evolution. This is a grave and mysterious void we as Christians cannot dodge in today’s heavily scientific-based society.

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