From Illusion to Insight: How Video Art Transcends Reality
Text: Alina Zhukova
"Crash in Teegarden's Star B" by Alex Simachev, 2022
Teegarden's Star B, a celestial body located 12 light years away from our solar system in the Aries constellation, serves as the enigmatic backdrop for Alex Simachev's thought-provoking video art piece titled "Crash in Teegarden's Star B." Filmed on a volcano in Java, Indonesia, this captivating work transcends conventional boundaries and delves into the profound questions that define our existence.

The video unfolds as a metaphorical exploration of humanity's ceaseless quest to unravel the mysteries of our own existence. It poses introspective inquiries, challenging our perceptions of home, purpose, and our place within the universe. It challenges the viewer to ask themselves: "Do I ultimately know who I am?", and merely contemplating the answer to this question may open up vast spaces, beyond the Earth's boundaries.

Simachev's meticulous attention to detail is evident from the opening credits, where he masterfully sets the stage by introducing the landscape of Teegarden B. The otherworldly volcanic terrain serves as a stunning yet haunting backdrop against which the fragile figure of the heroine is juxtaposed.

One of Simachev's distinctive artistic techniques is his ability to seamlessly blend fiction with reality. In "Crash in Teegarden's Star b," this artistry shines through as he meticulously weaves together the details of both the imagined world and the real world captured in his footage. The result is a truly immersive experience that blurs the boundaries between the tangible and the ethereal.

Through this mesmerizing video piece, Simachev invites audiences on a transcendent journey. He prompts us to question our place in the universe, pondering the vastness that lies beyond our familiar home on planet Earth. What if our home is, in truth, much grander? Simultaneously beautiful and unsettling, "Crash in Teegarden's Star b" serves as a catalyst for existential reflection, igniting a profound exploration of our own existence.
"The Person Who is Not" by Ruben Sogomonian, 2019
Video artist Ruben Sogomonian takes a unique approach to transcending reality by delving into the depths of introspection, fearlessly venturing into the dark recesses of his own childhood memories, as well as those of an entire post-war generation. Through his video art, Sogomonian universalizes his own emotions, enabling viewers to relive and intimately experience the rawness of these moments, allowing them to confront and ultimately embrace the pain, thereby making way for a new and improved reality.

From its initial black-and-white scenes, "The Person Who is Not" immerses the viewer in the perception of a child grappling with the haunting traumas of loss, parental alcoholism, and neglect. Sogomonian exhibits masterful selection in casting individuals whose visages alone speak volumes about the violence, poverty, and profound loss they have endured. The interplay of intense facial features is heightened by the strategic chiaroscuro lighting, whether it be the midday sun or the flickering flame of a candle. Additionally, the artist conveys the narrative through unsettling auditory cues—a passing train, a helpless body submerging in water, the shattering of glass—interspersed with distant echoes reminiscent of gunshots, screams, and the quickened heartbeat. Through these techniques, the video artist adeptly recreates the atmospheric essence of a traumatized childhood, allowing viewers to almost inhabit the experience themselves.

Unintentionally, Sogomonian's sincere and vivid portrayal of his own traumatic encounters strikes a chord with an entire generation marked by the collective grief of World War II, the Chechen conflict, the Afghan war, and the First and Second Karabakh wars, among others. The artist evokes memories of the arduous struggles faced by many in the post-Soviet Union countries during the tumultuous 1990s—loss of loved ones, grappling with scarcity, and enduring poverty.

This video art piece centers around memories that haunt us, preventing us from fully accepting reality. Sogomonian proposes that we embrace and integrate our difficult pasts to transcend them, ushering in a new era of growth and understanding.
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