Gravity

an installation by Michael Haussman

Jan 17 - March 8, 2012

Works in the Exhibition

 

GRAVITY {Red Hair Woman}

20122,000 fps HD Video, stereo sound, 16:9 vertical { portrait }

format,dimensions variable, 4:06 min loop, Music by Gareth Williams, Human

 

GRAVITY {Man with Gun}

20122,000 fps HD Video, stereo sound, 16:9 vertical { portrait } f

ormat,dimensions variable, 4:06 min loop, Music by Gareth Williams, Human

 

GRAVITY {Blonde Hair Woman}

20122,000 fps HD Video, stereo sound, 16:9 vertical { portrait }

format,dimensions variable, 4:06 min loop, Music by Gareth Williams, Human

 

GRAVITY {Man with Child}

20122,000 fps HD Video, stereo sound, 16:9 vertical { portrait }

format,dimensions variable, 4:06 min loop, Music by Gareth Williams, Human

 

GRAVITY {Lady in Rain}

20122,000 fps HD Video, stereo sound, 16:9 vertical { portrait }

format,dimensions variable, 4:06 min loop, Music by Gareth Williams, Human.

 

Young Projects is proud to present “Gravity,” a film-based installation by the Rome-based filmmaker and artist, Michael Haussman.

For this project, Haussman shot five different subjects on a trampoline and gave each a specific prop and background. As the artist says, “to the normal viewer, a person jumping on a trampoline is just a figure moving up and down and their expression is a blur of motion. To capture this action and emotion, all the subjects were shot at 2,000 frames per second, while engaged with one simple prop. Afterward, the body is completely steadied in a postproduction process known as ‘tracking’ (or motion stabilization software). This process takes the subject and steadies them in the frame so that they are no longer moving up and down. All that moves is their skin, cellulite, muscles, and weight of their respective bodies. The overall effect is somewhat disturbing: we see a singular subject who does not move, and yet the way in which his or her skin moves seems to suggest a kind of time-lapse aging, where they suddenly go from 18 years-old to 55 in a matter of seconds.”

 

Indeed, to some viewers the implied aging that occurs on screen might appear like a special effect or CGI—where soft legs suddenly become riddled with cellulite, or a face suddenly gains wrinkles and bags under the eyes. And yet no effects were applied to the figure at all. Everything that is seen on screen is entirely due to the effects of gravity on the body. Nothing more, nothing less. As the figure hits the bottom of the jump, wrinkles and abnormal shapes appear. But as they rise to the top of the jump, they seem to become younger, fresher and more buoyant.

 

For Haussman, “this emotional shift from optimistic youth to depressed older age provokes a very strong, emotional effect in the viewer and leads to a new reading of the human form. Each person interacts with a simple, yet symbolic prop in order to gain more depth into this radical emotional shift, and this prop seems to suggest a narrative. We see, for instance, a voluptuous woman, with pristine white skin and red hair floating upward against a cold, dark, chunky wall. Once gravity calls her back to earth, the red ink swirls now fall like blood onto her shoulders and neck.”

 

Not much further away is the image of a large naked man pointing a pistol at the screen.  Explains Haussman: “The pistol is an iconic image we have seen before — from movies, magazines, to the Wild West — but never in this context. To suddenly take the clothes off this man and expose his emotions, as he goes from dark, brooding, old man, darting his eyes, paranoid, searching for someone to shoot; to his highest apex where he is a happy, confident younger man, with a child-like expression, creates a psychotic shift in emotion.”

 

Similarly, a young blonde woman clutches her red bra and panties. For Haussman, the use of the color red as underwear “seems to be judgmental of her character, along with her smeared lipstick and mascara. She is obviously not coming from a good place, and when she’s at the bottom of the jump, she suddenly ages forty years, making her a Sunset Boulevard tragedy. However when she soars up, her body is flawless and attractive and she exudes a confident beauty, making her red underwear sexually promiscuous and enticing.”

 

“A few feet further away we see a father cradling his wounded son in his arms. His face mid-flight expresses fear, shock, and complete uncertainty of his next move. As he reaches the bottom the struggle to hold his son, as gravity tries to steal him away, becomes paramount. His son cries out in pain, helpless, as if it were his last breath. The father readjusts and struggles, with what is now a bag of heavy mass and bones. The boy soon becomes weightless in his arms and the father looks to the camera for help. It is a moment of true crisis, which immediately reminds one of the fragility of life, and that fate plays no favorites. The call of gravity upon all bodies is created equal with the same destination.”

 

“Lastly and maybe most shocking is the only close-up of the show. An older woman’s face is filmed in close-up as rain provides the most magical result of the effect in the entire ensemble. This woman seems optimistic and fine with age and the rain. She almost seems to be living out a great memory. Her face seems to laugh with joy. She has a child-like expression. Then as she gets to the bottom on the jump the rain seems to hit harder on her body and one can see heavy streams of water rolling down her face as her skin and expression seem to drop in extreme proportions. The rain runs with the contours of her wrinkles, cascading down her sagging jaw, down the loose-skinned neck, drooping eyes, in such a dramatic fashion, one is immediately reminded of typical effects found in horror films.”

 

From a formal point of view, Gravity borrows equally from classical painting traditions as some of the great typological works by Eadweard Muybridge, Bernd & Hilla Becher and others. Indeed, each of the works uses a strong heavenly top light—typically used by Renaissance masters—which dramatically exposes the flesh as if it were moving brush strokes and reemphasizes the relation with the heavens, gravity and sheer weight of the world. What’s more, the uniformity of the figures, where each is recorded in the same position, and under the same extreme scrutiny, is a kind of typology that contrasts the more emotional effects of the musical score and/or subject matter. All five screens are presented floating in between the ceiling and floor in a vertical format, and paired with an identically-sized mirror, which frames the viewer in the exact same way, and with the same lighting.

 

About the artist

 

Michael Haussman was born in the USA in 1964 and lives and works in Rome. He is a director, writer and artist, whose internationally acclaimed commercials have won numerous awards and are featured in advertising books and trade journals. They include campaigns for Levi’s, Diesel, Bulgari, Absolut, BMW, Yves Saint Laurent, Guinness, Adidas, Ray-Ban, Volkswagen, Coca-Cola, Budweiser, Replay, Nespresso and more. He has directed music videos for such artists as Justin Timberlake, Madonna, Chemical Brothers, Kanye West, Usher, Shakira, Chris Cornell, Jennifer Lopez, Eric Clapton, and B.B. King. His videos have won several MTV and VH1 awards, including twice MTV ‘Music Video Of The Year’ and the prestigious Museum Of Modern Art award.

 

His solo art show Naturales, featuring paintings and works on paper premiered at the Desoto gallery in Los Angeles, the New York Scope Art Fair, and Group Showing in Los Angeles.  Michael wrote and directed the experimental film, Rhinoceros Hunting In Budapest, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. He also completed a feature-length documentary about two matadors and the world of bullfighting, entitled The Last Serious Thing. The Unsinkable Henry Morgan, a documentary for the Sundance Channel premieres at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2013.

 

Michael is currently attached to direct Man Of Power, the story of Nikola Tesla, which he co-wrote and is being produced by Johnny Depp’s production company, Infinitum Nihl. He has also just finished writing Good Guys, which Michael will direct in Rome, Italy, centering on two Americans meeting in a hotel bar. After one is found dead, the other takes over his identity, becoming everything min life he fought against.

 

GRAVITY was chosen by LA Weekly as one of “10 Great Artworks at Art Platform Los Angeles Art Fair 2012” — “This dispatch from the ugly/sexy aesthetic wing of modern art comes courtesy of video-centric Young Projects Gallery, which presented a series of large-scale video pieces distributed throughout the fair. Considering his career as a commercial, video, and fashion editorial director, it is perhaps not surprising that Haussman would utilize both cutting-edge software and his up-close look at bodyimage obsession to create this super-creepy video work that transforms footage of a model jumping on a trampoline into an unsettling meditation on the effects of gravity {and by extension, the ravages of aging} on the female body.” — LA Weekly, 12 October 2012