Several years back I found myself wandering through the streets of NYC (somewhere between Tribeca, SoHo, and Chinatown) when I stumbled across a rather unassuming façade that advertised art exhibitions. I hadn’t really been looking for a gallery, so I wasn’t particularly concerned with whatever I might see. It feels as if I visit hundreds of exhibitions yearly, and unfortunately not all of them are memorable. So with a rather subdued set of expectations I entered into the darkened space of the main gallery. And that is when I encountered The 8 Train, a video artwork by Josh Melnick
. The video showcased black and white portraits of NYC subway riders, with the images having been slowed down to impossibly slow speeds. And right there and then I was shown something new about a subject matter that I felt I already intimately knew. This is the power of good art. As a boy I used ride on the subways for fun. I remember one particular high school day where I was feeling particularly unexcited about everything around me and decided to just not go to class. Instead I spent my day riding the N trains back and forth to Coney Island. During this unending ride I just bided my time and watched the people get on and off the train. As a young brash teenager, I felt nothing of staring at the strangers, not with mal-intent, but more as a scientist, seeking the ever-elusive final bit of evidence that can conclusively prove that gravity does not exist. And in these moments I remember intently watching the people inadvertently rock back and forth in rhythm with the train’s vibrations. Josh’s The 8 Train brought all of those memories back to life, and perhaps more importantly, helped me to finally make sense of why those memories had left such an impact. Since this day I knew that I wanted to employ slow motion high definition video capture in my own art practice, and until Mapping Abu Dhabi I had never found a convincing reason to do so. For me the idea of slowing video down to an almost imperceptible segment of passing time brings this moving medium tantalizing close to the still image … never the twain shall meet but oh how wonderful it is to try.