Stephen Andrews

In terms of shock value, art has lost to war. I mean, how can you really compete with photos from Abu Ghraib or videos of a beheading? But shock as a force in art was overblown anyway; the antics of showmen like Damian Hirst quickly grow tired, and what do you have left but a stale gimmick? Toronto-based experimental artist Stephen Andrews has recently been working with difficult images of war, but not with an intent to shock so much as to see them anew with a distanced, careful eye. One thing about images of atrocity is that they're easy to make: Any camera will do, and there's no shortage of brutality in the world right now. What Andrews does with found footage of casualties and night-vision chaos is to imagine the images as if they were extremely difficult to create. Using a process he discovered on his own, Andrews takes each frame of video and creates his own meticulous color separations by hand, using crayons rubbed on paper stretched over a window screen. Though the resulting images are foggy abstractions, they achieve a heightened moral clarity. A video composed of hundreds of these images runs in the back of the gallery, and one of its many lessons is that the act of taking a life, so thoughtlessly done in war, is to suddenly halt a long and detailed work of creation. Platform Gallery, 114 Third Ave. S., 206-323-2808. 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Thurs.-Sat. Exhibit runs through June 18. ANDREW ENGELSON

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