The Video Art of Theodore Sefcik
Watching Theodore Sefcik’s eerily naturalistic videos often seems like we are spying on an artificial intelligence. As it learns and corrects itself in front of our eyes, crudely, yet sufficiently animated simulations come across as struggling animals and human figures. But more so than often, basic shapes or pixels are being propelled through a type of a conveyor belt, digestion track, or blood stream.
With a super minimal appearance and aesthetic, it’s remarkable to see the base elements it takes to create feelings of empathy through abstraction by confusingly connecting to a viewer’s sense of morality, tolerance for violence, math skills and attention span. All the while, representations of microbes, worms, lizards, spiders, crustaceans, wooden dancers, pachinko machines, Cuisinart’s, butter churns, Lotto machines, and several unidentified objects are used. The elements tumble and squeeze, and are forced into the path of least resistance and are expelled. Each screen illustrates how information can be scattered, split up, or scrambled, but ultimately never destroyed.
Ted is a bit of an outsider when it comes to the world of video art and animation. Rather than using an animation software, he uses an online physics simulations rendering program, but he’s twisted the purpose to create these kind of empathic animal insect or seemingly struggling mechanisms. As you can see the community of online participants use the same program for actual engineering problem and solution schematic generators, or fluid dynamics and such. Generally, each video is displayed looping and alone on a sole screen. No matter how long the loop, whether its 4 minutes or 4 seconds, the screens are commercial industrial monitors he collects and strips of their plastic casing, bringing it to its raw elemental purpose needed only aesthetic, or other times the videos are displayed projected on a wall.
Sefcik’s videos are as confounding as they are captivating. One can find themselves lost in trying to comprehend the mechanism of the whole piece, while getting distracted as you start to root and cheer on a stray pixel as it makes its way through a gravity cavity. And, when it does, you actually have an endorphin release, the same way your eyes will follow a teasing basketball bouncing off the rim before successfully falling through. Uh… uh… uh… ah… Ahhhhhhhh.