Mass Ornament (2009) single-channel video installation
Mass Ornament is a single-channel video installation with five channels of sound in which a mass dance is constructed from hundreds of found online videos of people dancing in front of their webcams in their rooms. Mass Ornament explores how mass culture insunuates itself in individual bodies. Dancers seem to make small claims of embodiment in the face of its supposed disappearance in the virtual realm. The work is named after a 1927 essay by Siegfried Kracauer, which argues that the synchronized movements of chorus line dance troupes, reflects the logic of Fordism. Just as rows of spectators once sat in theaters watching rows of bodies moving in formation, today millions watch and move in formation in front of our screens, reflecting the logic of Post-Fordism. Mass Ornament reflects on the ways in which the popular entertainment we collectively produce mirrors and helps shape on our psychic and social realities.
Natalie Bookchin's new video installation, Mass Ornament, choreographs hundreds of YouTube dance videos to create an dazzling artwork that also questions contemporary isolation and connection via screens, cameras and technology.
KCET Blur and Sharpen
With a keen eye for detail, a terrific sense of timing and a killer instinct for editing, [Bookchin] has clipped and combined hundred of vignettes from YouTube and set them to the soundtracks from two 1935 films, Busby Berkeley's "Gold Diggers" and Leni Riefenstahl's "Triumph of the Will." Bookchin's deft selection of highlights is awesome, a powerful instance of making something great from the stuff at one's fingertips in the Digital Age.
To watch the split-screen extravaganza is to feel as if you are at once enjoying a god's-eye view of a vast, everyday parade of vulnerable human beings and also an intimate part of a democratic drama that is deeply moving.
Los Angeles Times