Look Closer: Discovering the Spectacle of the Static Screen in Alison Norlen’s Roller Coaster

Visual artist Alison Norlen’s exhibit Roller Coaster requires the viewer to experience her pieces with a range in proximity. It is with this awareness that the viewer is able to see Norlen’s pieces as a series of static screens; although the images seem stationary there is a distinct linear movement occurring from frame to frame and a narrative begins to develop from viewing the five screens sequentially. In this sense, Norlen is working with a code. If the viewer observes a while longer he or she will begin to see Norlen’s use of formal properties such as lines, curves, and color to denote the emotional essence of her pieces. However, the complexity of the structures that Norlen has carefully drawn and their role in our society reveals itself only to the eye that is able to grasp the details. Each screen carries movement within its static image[s]. For example, the colors in each piece are not solid but rather broken into various nuances of blue, orange and black. The structures become active obstacles in human communication and objects of isolation. It is possible that Norlen is commenting on the progression of architecture and therefore the progression of human society as a way of creating individualism and isolation, it is also possible to perceive how the spectacle of a series of large scale static screens seduces the viewer. In any case, an awareness of proximity is useful when experiencing Norlen’s work.
Natalie Schneck