JIMI BILLINGSLEY: Celluloid Divinations + Mountain Drive-In Collage
PREVIEW - By appointment only
Chance encounters sometimes elevate to the realm of the marvelous. The embrace of such encounters was a stated passion and strategy of the Surrealist prophet Andre Breton as he and Nadja wandered the streets and flea markets of Paris making themselves available to coincidence and the animating agency of the surrealist object. That is, responding to a moment or situation as if it were pregnant with possibility, in the service of breaking the stranglehold of reason on the imagination, and towards a liberty of expression.
These works of Celluloid Divinations + Mountain Drive-In Collage draw from a similar agenda: Both in their inspiration - the result of a Spring evening adventure when Billingsley and a beloved accomplice explored the dilapidated projection house of a defunct drive-in theater in the Catskills, discovering there a loose stash of decayed film in the form of weathered movie trailers - A wow moment ensuing while together staring at the hermetic images backlit by the headlights of their car - and in Billingsley's execution - the chance spilling of celluloid bits on a scanner like so many tea leaves on a saucer catalyzes a reaction, starting a series of dialectical responses that ultimately create the work.
Film is a technology that projects an image in time, yet as a tactile object it is also a color, shape, and static emulsion. It conveys its intrinsic story, yet when taken out of the context of moving pictures and deconstructed, it becomes a medium with its own aesthetic qualities, one that intones the story of the medium of film itself - as pop culture, art, technology, commerce, history, and the rest. Like others, for example in the photograms of Laszlo Maholy-Nagy, the silk screens of Robert Rauschenberg, and the collages Kurt Schwitters, to name a few, Billingsley harnesses and re-contextualizes both the form and the implicit meaning of an existing material/image towards creating something wholly new and contemporary in its own right.
As in several of his former series, these collages reflect the play between structure and gesture, positive and negative space, chaos and order - each piece expressing its unique architecture with kinetic tension.