Modernism is pleased to present a solo exhibition of recent works by Peter SARKISIAN, a Santa Fe-based new-media artist.
Sarkisian studied photography and film at the California Institute of the Arts and the American Film Institute in the late 1980’s, and then began working with video as a sculptural element in the mid 90’s. The underlying premise of his work remains committed to using video as an instrument against commercialized media, namely television, in order to transform the act of watching video from an experience- killing endeavor to an experience-creating one. He accomplishes this by joining sculptural elements with projected video imagery to create audio/visual illusions that trap the viewer between conflicting interpretations, thereby forcing a state of self-awareness that is otherwise absent while watching television.
The Videomorphic figures—a phrase Sarkisian coined to describe the video/sculptural hybrid form—are comprised of 3D printed forms onto which animated motions and gestures are projected. Although the robots are noteworthy in part because of their overly cartoon-like compositions, the increasing sophistication of Sarkisian’s projections situates them in a place of the uncanny, where it is easy to reassure oneself at one moment that these objects have not and can never be alive, while still being lured into occasional moments of doubt when the combination of solid form and lifelike motion let us glimpse a world of the future, when actual robots, in the form of charming humanoids will be our near-constant companions.
(Dan Cameron, Curator, Excerpt from catalogue essay for the exhibition Sarkisian & Sarkisian, organized by the Orange County Museum of Art, 2014)
All of Sarkisian’s work is grounded in the idea that video, in it’s ubiquitous and most popular form, is an experientially void medium, and that by depriving ourselves of experience in favor of information-based images, we have become unable to grasp the meaning of consequence or to coexist with mutual understanding. His installations therefore attempt to steer the world’s most influential medium back on a collision course with the viewer in order to reintroduce an element of experience to the viewing process. If the filmmaker’s traditional goal is to distract viewers through the suspension of self-awareness, then Sarkisian’s goal is to create a sense of heightened self-awareness by engaging the viewer in constructed environments that blur the line between what is real and what is mediated.
Named a Master Video Artist in 2007 by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), Sarkisian has exhibited widely throughout the world in major museums and public venues, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Musée Picasso, France, the Hammer Museum of Art, the Albright-knox Art Gallery and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Sarkisian's work has been featured in many international exhibitions and festivals, including the Istanbul Biennial in Turkey, the Vidarte Festival in Mexico City, the Whitney Biennial in New York, and the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland.
In 2008 the University of Wyoming Art Museum organized an extensive mid-career retrospective of Sarkisian’s work. The exhibition traveled to numerous venues throughout the world, including the Knoxville Museum of Art, the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts and the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. In April of 2014, The Orange County Museum of Art opened it's own retrospective exhibition of Sarkisian's work, curated by Dan Cameron.