Mass Ornament (2009) single-channel video installation
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
In Mass Ornament a mass dance is constructed from hundreds of clips from YouTube of people dancing alone in their rooms. In his essay Mass Ornament (1927(, Zigfried Kracauer argued that the synchronized movements of chorus line dancers reflected the logic of the Fordist economic system of mass production. Today, YouTube dancers, alone in their rooms performing a routine that is both extremely private and extraordinarily public, reflect a post-Fordist era. Millions of isolated spectator/workers in front of their screens move in formation and watch dancers moving in formation alone in their rooms, also in front of their screens. Yet, together, the dancers seem to make small claims for embodiment and public-ness in the face of their disappearance.