Adam Putnam

Can you make an empty space perform? Adam Putnam has explored this possibility in video works made over the past three years, beginning with “…” (2002), which depicts a non-existent interior that Putnam fashioned in the editing room from three different shots of the same wall in his studio. His pieces often take the form of meditations on our experience of architecture—not the physical space, but rather the various symbolic, narrative and psychological constructions we attach to the built environment. With a sustained focus on an empty room, Putnam creates a tension that “performs” these other aspects of its identity in an atmosphere oppressively charged with absence.

Putnam departs from this form of hermetic stagecraft with his piece created for “The Plain of Heaven”—housed in a building redolent of what the artist has called the “necrophilia” provoked by decaying architecture. The Way Out is a new projection for a small, dark room in a far corner of the warehouse, which once served as a smokehouse for meat. Made by a repetitive process of filming a wall, projecting the footage on the same surface, and filming it again, the work constructs a light tunnel through the increasing overexposure of each successive room. The result is an endlessly receding hallway that Putnam describes as “a way out of the labyrinth—a way out of the attraction and revulsion we bring to spaces of decrepitude and nostalgia.”

Video still from The Way Out, 2005