As .*` .* ;`*,`., `, ,`.*.*. *.*` .* ;`*,`., `, ,`.*.*. *.*` .* ;`*,`., `, ,`.*.*. *, the left video of Sparkling I and II, a video diptych by Petra Cortright, cuts in at its opening, one views a character in a lush garden world wearing sunglasses propped-up on the top of her head (played by Cortright herself) who both nearly fills the frame as well as peers just outside of it (perhaps after having turned the video camera on?).
Likewise, the right video of the diptych– :’ |._ ~**~ _.:’ |._ ~**~ _.:’ |._ ~**~ _.:’ |._ ~**~ _.:’ |._ ~**~ _.—opens with the same character in a (different but similarly lush) garden world wearing sunglasses propped-down on the lower-bridge of her nose (as opposed to propped-up on the top of her head) as she–again–both nearly fills the frame as well as peers just off-screen (perhaps after having turned the video camera on).
Within the first ten seconds of each of these videos an identical plot point, then, occurs:
After re-adjusting her sunglasses so that she views the world through their lenses, a jump-cut catalyzes all perceptually-realistic motion represented in the video to be trailed by an automatized “sparkle” animation in which plus-signs (+’s) and ex’s (x’s) flare up and down in flurries of syncopation which read as the sparkle of, say, light on water, light through trees, stars at night, or the Web-native “sparkle” of star field wallpaper.
The bulk of each video’s subsequent actions, then, occur through these automatically animated sparkle animations as Cortright, whose moving body is now trailed by sparkles, walks away from the camera towards a tree and begins to casually—poetically, but almost aimlessly—pull at its branches, run her hands through its leaves, amble through its shade, and generally interact with it in a pas de deux of sparkle showers emanating from both her body and the tree parts she performs with.
Cortright makes work that is often indistinguishable from vernacular forms of culture.
There are lots of videos of young people using a default effect and then acting silly.
She does it with a style, humor, and somehow very human sincerity that makes each of her works a very good example of whatever cultural form she is working in.
This piece is a good example.
For someone who doesn’t look at it as art, it would be a pretty good example of an amateur video.
By putting it in the context of art and the context of her larger body of work, though, the video takes on a different meaning.
It works as a readymade almost, demonstrating for the viewer part of the visual language of the moment so that the viewer can see it.
What is more powerful, though, is that it doesn’t do it in an academic way.
While being a work of art, it is also a work that is not “of art.”