Bean Summer at Get This! Gallery

Bean Summer, I Don’t See Any Method At All, Sir (from 30/30/30)

In his work on the web and around town, Ben Worley (aka Bean Summer, aka Video Bean) meshes video with performance, photography, and installation. Bean’s project at Get This! Gallery was part of last month’s “Le Flash” celebration in Castleberry Hill, where he projected video manipulated in real time.

This work was part of an ongoing body that mainly consists of appropriating an overload of images from our culture and re-presenting them with various filters and combinations. Images are layered and placed in a continuum that may or may not offer an understandable context—either to the individual images or to the collection as a whole.

Bean Summer, Encyclopedia Studies
Bean Summer, from Encyclopedia Studies

Bean’s approach to image collecting is encyclopedic—in fact, he has in the past displayed every image from a volume of World Book from the 1950s in his series, Encyclopedia Studies. This lack of definitive editing is what seems to define the various forms of his output. There is a nebulous quality, and the work is purposefully hard to pin down. In a sense, by including almost everything, the works offer at least one bit of something for everyone.

His most recent project, 30/30/30, consists of 30 two-minute films done in 30 days to celebrate the artist’s 30th birthday. Some of the films, such as My Memories of the 2nd Year have a Brakhage-like quality, where slowly shifting, undefined images give the feel of an abstract painting.

Others, such as I Don’t See Any Method At All, Sir (see top of post) or Day 25: Going For The Best!, offer mostly normal TV or video content—slowed down, sped up, and made strange by manipulation—in ways that subvert the original meaning. Other works reference outmoded technology: Atari, Intellivision, or the now defunct, but once essential mixed tape.

Bean Summer
Bean Summer

This omnivorous search for content lays the groundwork for the crux of Bean’s art, a form of visual Jazz—improvisation on the part of the artist, complicated by the subjective interpretation of the audience.
This comes together in Bean’s performances; his videos are the raw material for the real-time manipulations, which sometimes include musical performances or attacking the audience with toys.

As Bean explains,

I use a live mixer, so I can take all the videos and put them into play with them. I can record that output, so it becomes more and more random to lose more and more control, or use editing software to have total control of anything I make. And then when you start playing live, it’s like an instrument…I can take the videos and play them off of other artists, which I do a lot.

I’m not a musician, but if I can make visuals work in a space, it’s almost the same. Veejays have been around since the rave scene, but I’d like to do it in a way that has some sort of impact. I also hope to create something new that will shift perspectives and give me a voice that has relevance to today’s art.

Bean’s lack of didacticism helps give the audience an “in” to his work. His methods are highly subjective and introverted, and he expresses an appreciation for “the Dargers of the world.” But in his performances, gallery shows, and even on the web, the extroversion is what propels his work into the public and excites conversation.

Absolutely no stance is taken—Bean only provides us with a voracious and obsessive accumulation of our own electronic detritus, presenting the collection as an ever-shifting mirror where we may or may not recognize ourselves.

Click image to browse 30/30/30.  Burn Away is not responsible for epilepsy.
There really are 30 videos. Click this image to browse 30/30/30. (Burn Away is not responsible for epilepsy.)

Bean is currently a MFA candidate at Georgia State. Don’t miss his thesis show at Get This! Gallery, scheduled for April 2009. Bean’s video installations also appear at Lenny’s Bar or other Atlanta music venues.

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