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TO DEC. 18
A monotonous thrumming fills the small single room of the Strand on Volta gallery. The white noise could be primordial rumblings from the beginning of the cosmos, or perhaps some incredible weather system coming in over low, flat plains. Whatever it is, the recording is perfectly keyed to the seven video projections that make up digital artist Brandon Morse’s current audiovisual installation there. “These Things Happen” is the reassuring title of the show, but what precisely is happening in Morse’s work resists immediate comprehension. It seems simple enough to parse at first: In two of the projections, each filling a separate wall, a solitary cloud drifts slowly into view and dissolves into darkness. These black-and-white, apparently nighttime images recall cloud studies by Stieglitz from the ’20s, albeit significantly larger and moving in real time. Three adjacent projections are, by contrast, tiny—barely the size of your hand; each depicts a black-and-white seascape. The sun is setting slowly in each, and as it dips behind the horizon, light glints off of languidly rolling waves. The projectors themselves—clunky, spheroid contraptions mounted on vintage wooden tripods, positioned a foot or two from the wall—add to the silent-film feel of the installation. But these images aren’t vintage, nor are they even natural: They’re completely artificial computer simulations generated by the artist. Morse has found a clever metaphor for the way that art and creativity imitate life, and by deftly integrating a few temporal miscues—black-and-white images, low-tech hardware—he scrambles the viewer’s sense of place, opening up unfamiliar new vistas. The show is on view from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and by appointment, to Saturday, Dec. 18, at Strand on Volta, 1531 33rd St. NW. Free. (202) 333-4663. (Jeffry Cudlin)