October 20, 2011
January 29, 2012
Saturday Night Live alum and Spinal Tap member Harry Shearer is also a video artist. For his multi-screen installation The Silent Echo Chamber (2008), Shearer chose what he calls “Found Objects”—online video clips that he collects—showing well-known politicians and media personalities captured in the quiet moments before they “go live” in television appearances. What you see are unexpected expressions never intended for prime time.
The work is a “return to what television is supposed to be,” Shearer said in an interview with PBS. He believes television, with its focus too often on sitting and talking, lacks the visual vitality it once had. For him, this project is “an opportunity to get back to the idea of just watching. I’m trying to give people as little surrounding content as possible, as little interpretation as possible.” Shearer insists that viewers are welcome to “make up their own story” about what they are seeing.
Shearer (born 1943), one of America’s most prominent satirists, achieved stardom as Derek Smalls of Spinal Tap, and voices a variety of characters (Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders and others) on The Simpsons. His extensive acting credits run the gamut from A Mighty Wind to The Right Stuff. Since the 1990s, Shearer has also exhibited video installation projects at many prominent museums. Exhibited courtesy of Susan Inglett Gallery, New York.—James Jensen, Curator of Contemporary Art