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Art Review: Nadia Hironaka and Matthew Suib at Kim Light/Lightbox

August 14, 2009 | 10:45 am

To view “Black Hole,” an absorbing video projection by Nadia Hironaka and Matthew Suib at Kim Light/Lightbox, you must occupy just such a space — a chamber dark enough to divest you of your bearings. Before long, the aesthetic of withholding that visually characterizes the 7 1/2-minute piece becomes processed, experientially, as an ethic of confinement.

Nadinehiro The space is hot; its air feels dense. What is projected on one black wall is minimal, indeterminate, fleeting: the slow-motion hover of a hummingbird, a pair of bare feet, an illuminated blank sign, a quivering spider web, old footage of something traveling fast and leaving a trail of dust. A soundtrack layers gentle percussion and droning synthesizers, producing something between dirge and trance music. This induced state of unknowing suggests a deprivation chamber, a cell. On screen, an eyeball appears briefly to check on us. Metaphorically, we are stuck in Plato’s cave, catching only glimmers, shadows, reflections of actuality.

With “Black Hole,” the Philadelphia-based artists (who also work independently) stage an experience both provocative and destabilizing.

A sound piece in the gallery’s courtyard is interesting, but less powerful, in part because it must compete with the continual whoosh of street traffic. Its mix of film noir dialogue snippets and musical fragments hints at political intrigue. The term “patriotism” is uttered by one voice, then cynically dismissed by another. As in “Black Hole,” not all is decipherable, and that elusiveness is part of the work’s appeal. In both works, Hironaka and Suib create a kind of environmental montage — restrained, tense and portentous.

Kim Light/Lightbox, 2680 S. La Cienega Blvd., (310) 559-1111, through Aug. 22. Closed Sunday and Monday.

--Leah Ollman

Above: Black Hole (Web), 2009. Credit: Courtesy of the artists and Kim Light/LightBox