In its truest form, senior Ben Dysart’s video art piece captures the feeling of anxiety that accompanies knowing something is about to go wrong. For me, the video, on display in the Art Building, pushed me into a rabbit hole that ended with a jarring, self-reflective experience.
In the lobby of the Art Building, where members of the Visual Arts Club put finishing touches on their work, I walk over to a clunky TV that looks straight out of the ‘90s.
After I put on the black headphones, the muted rumbling of a car driving down a road filters into my ears. I’ve entered the video a few seconds in.
As I stare at the telephone wires racing by on the screen, I hear a female radio voice. She mentions something about Ruth Bader Ginsburg then continues onto her next topic.
The shaky image quickly cuts to a deserted path through a heavily wooded area, indicating that the man behind the camera is alone.
Seconds later, the sound of water enters my ears as the picture switches back to the low angle view of telephone poles. Though water isn’t pictured in the frame, I stare at the electrical wires with the forethought that if the two were to mix, calamity would ensue.
As the video progresses, more images of familiar places appear. I find myself alone on a trail in the woods again, then in the backseat of a car on a grey day. A log floating in a lake just below where I would be sitting on the bank flashes onto the screen, and then I am leaning against a railing by a river.
Eventually, a rumbling noise, the sound of rushing water and the female voice all join together and intensify into a deafening cacophony of white noise that makes me freeze, eyes locked on the screen.
In a Jumanji-esque way, I felt as if I was no longer standing in the Art Building watching a short film. My surroundings faded away and suddenly I was sitting in the car again. The destination was unclear, but with an overwhelming sense of deja vu I was certain I’d been in this very position before — chair reclined, staring out the window at a grey backdrop with the same wires passing by over and over again. In that moment I only partially grasped the chilling reality that I was not the driver.
Then the screen went black.
I felt as though the floor disappeared from beneath my feet.
Staring into the TV that was now just a provisional mirror, I was unprepared to look into my own eyes. More importantly, I was unprepared to face the realization that I couldn’t hold my own gaze for more than a few seconds at a time.
I thought the video would climax to a catastrophe or short-lived horror, but instead I was left looking at my own reflection.
I realized the images on the screen and the sounds in the background weren’t the focal point of the video — I was.
The installation is titled “In the Rush I am Overcome” and will be on display beside other works from the Visual Arts Club through Feb. 22.