The 59th Minute

Even before the term "hypnosis" was first used by Scottish physician James Braid in 1843, the medical profession had experimented with ways to ease patients into trance-like states for therapeutic purposes. From the turn of the last century, therapies involving subliminal messaging have gone in and out of favor, while the creators of advertising and their critics have debated the market-motivated use of these "subthreshold effects," as pop sociologist Vance Packard termed them in 1950s. Presented on a revolving schedule in the middle of Times Square during the last minute of each hour, videos by Brian Alfred, Ara Peterson, and Mark Titchner evoke the fraught history of images as they are used for their effect on our minds for healing, political, and economic purposes.

All three of these emerging artists use video as part of practices that span a variety of media, including painting, sculpture, drawing, collage, print and installation. Ara Peterson's Energy Fields (2003) recalls the psychedelic light shows that accompanied live music events in the 1960s. The work's saturated digital colors and kaleidoscopic symmetry are suggestive of the decade's aesthetics of mind expansion. In Times Square, Peterson's pulsing and rhythmic editing brings to mind the aggressive seduction of today's savvy advertising, along with its hypnotic aspirations.

Mark Titchner explores the faith we place in ideologies, often combining the visual traditions of propaganda and self-improvement regimens. As in Peterson's video, Titchner's Voices you cannot hear (2004) employs an abstract hypnotic structure and pacing, but with specific exhortations. "DO IT" repeatedly punctuates the background, while a central rotating wheel transfixes the viewer with phrases such as "WE KEEP QUIET LIKE THEY TAUGHT US" and other directives presented in a style referencing subliminal messaging.

Brian Alfred, whose animated videos grew out of his work in painting and collage, references both the chaos and regimentation of our digitally-networked era. Help Me! (2005) mimics the insistent visual tone of the real-time news tickertape scrolling beneath the Astrovision screen. But here the artist sends out just one message, "Help Me!" which crawls slowly and rhythmically in contrast to the head-spinning array of news items running below. The cryptic message, personal and purposely vague, confronts and confuses the viewer-who is speaking? Alfred's piece picks up on Titchner's undercurrents of both self-help and Big Brother-style admonishments, turning them back upon us as a kind of question that seems to grow more serious with each passing letter. Is there a pearl of wisdom or truth hidden within the overwhelming mediascape of advertising and information in which we are submerged? And if we allow ourselves to be captivated, seduced, and hypnotized, will we even notice it crying out for our attention?

- Peter Eleey
Curator, Creative Time


Brian Alfred (b. 1973, Pittsburgh, PA) will have his second show with Mary Boone this March concurrent with his video on The 59th Minute. Since graduating from Yale’s MFA program in 1999, Alfred has exhibited at Max Protech, New York; Sandroni Rey, Los Angeles; and Haunch of Venison, London; and had his first solo museum show, The Future is Now, at the Phoenix Art Museum in 2004. He will be included in a selection from the Kent and Vicki Logan collection at the Denver Art Museum this year. Alfred is represented by Mary Boone, New York.

Ara Peterson (b. 1973, Boston, MA) lives and works in Providence, RI. He is a founding member of the seminal collective, Forcefield, who were included in the 2002 Biennial Exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. His work has been included in exhibitions at Greene Naftali, New York; The Mattress Factory, Pittsburgh; the last Liverpool and Lyon biennials; and The Moore Space, Miami. Peterson collaborated with Jim Drain on Hypnogoogia at Deitch Projects, New York earlier this year. He is represented by John Connelly Presents, New York.

Mark Titchner (b. 1973, Luton, UK) has been living and exhibiting in London and abroad since the mid-1990s. He had a solo show at the Tate Britain in 2003, and is included in the large touring survey British Art Show that opened at the Arnolfini, Bristol, UK, last year. Titchner created a series of large posters for the Gloucester Road Underground Station in London in 2004. The first major show of the artist’s work opened at the Arnolfini in February and runs through April. He is represented by Vilma Gold, London and Peres Projects, Los Angeles/Berlin.


  March 7, 2006 - June 5, 2006

Download Brian Alfred's Screensaver
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(12mb, 4 minute download via DSL/Cable)

Download Mark Titchner's Screensaver
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(17mb, 6 minute download via DSL/Cable)