Peter Sarkisian

From his earliest works starting in 1994, Peter Sarkisian has explored the spatial possibilities of video projection, creating installations that redefine the role of video by engaging the viewer within them.

For his fifth exhibition at I-20 and his first in New York since 2003, the artist visualizes the medium itself: a vividly-colored still life façade through which snippets of text from audio recordings scroll in random bursts.  The text fragments are personal narratives that appear to have been produced by the engine and which race across the surface of the work.  Both object and image, static and moving, his Extruded Video Engines subvert the categorization of video works.

Sarkisian’s videos and a smaller work, Extruded Video Engine, Medium Shape 1, Version 3, are contoured screens that were designed using 3D modeling software, and which were sculptured from slabs of mahogany using computer-guided technology.  He then combined hundreds of film clips together to form cohesive images that match the contours in the shaped surfaces of his sculptures.

The film clips – antiquated gears, pistons, flywheels and ball bearings in vivid colors or black and white – are Cold War remnants that the artist filmed at the Los Alamos National Laboratory Surplus facility in New Mexico.  The final works are vacuum formed thermal plastic and video projections that are seemingly empowered by the whirring and clinking of archaic, long-obsolete machinery.

A fourth work, Light Bulb Hanging in the Foreground, portrays a large three-dimensional light bulb that dominates the foreground of a machine shop.  A man busy in the shop tinkers with a project that we never see because it’s hidden behind the large naked bulb.  In the end, the light bulb assumes the dominant role and challenges assumptions about the formation of an idea within the creative process.

Peter Sarkisian will have a solo exhibition in July at the Contemporary Arts Center New Orleans.

His solo shows include Double Feature: Steve McQueen and Peter Sarkisian, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2005-2006); the Glassell School of Art, Museum of Fine Arts Houston (2003); the Picasso Museum Antibes, France (2000); the Machinenhalle at Brandenburgischer Kunstverein, Potsdam, Germany (1999); and the University Art Gallery, University of California, San Diego (1998).  Group shows include Video Art/3 Visions: Jenny Perlin, Peter Sarkisian and Hiraki Sawa, Knoxville Museum of Art, TN (2008); the Iris Collection, Mexico City (2007); Video: Beyond the Frame, Huntington Museum of Art, Huntington, WV (2007); Bodily Space: New Obsessions in Figurative Sculpture, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo (2004); 8th Istanbul Biennial, Turkey (2003); the Biennial Exhibition of Public Art, Neuberberger Museum of Art, Purchase, New York (2003);  the Whitney Biennial (2002); and Making Time: Considering Time as a Material in Contemporary Film and Video, curated by Amy Cappellazzo, the University of California, Armand Hammer Museum, Los Angeles and Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art (2001).  The artist had a recent solo show at James Kelly Contemporary, Santa Fe.  His work is featured in “Video Art” by Michael Rush, Thames & Hudson (2007).  Sarkisian was born in 1965 in Glendale, California.  He studied at the California Institute of the Arts and the American Film Institute.  He lives and works in Santa Fe, New Mexico.