As a part of our ongoing partnership with Art Practical, today we bring you a feature from writer Genevieve Quick. In her piece, The Way Beyond Art: Infinite Screens, Genevieve explores the 5-channel video installation Hearsay of the Soul, 2012, by acclaimed artist and filmmaker Werner Herzog.
As the fourth and final installment of its exhibition series “The Way Beyond Art: Infinite Screens,” the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts in San Francisco presents Werner Herzog’s Hearsay of the Soul (2012). Continuing the interdisciplinary curatorial approach of past installments with two exhibitions devoted to graphic design (both subtitled Wider White Space, 2011) and one to industrial design (Sunny Memories, 2010), “The Way Beyond Art: Infinite Screens” presents the filmmaker Herzog’s first, and rather awkward, foray into contemporary art. Originally exhibited as part of the 2012 Whitney Biennial, Hearsay of the Soul combines footage of the paintings and prints of the Dutch Golden Age artist Hercules Segers (c. 1589–c. 1638) with a contemporary classical score composed and performed by Ernst Reijseger. Unfortunately, the piece never fully capitalizes on its five-channel setup to explore the vast potential for juxtapositions of imagery and sound. Instead, Herzog’s choices are predictable, fading between footage of Segers’s ethereal landscapes in a fairly traditional manner, the imagery neither enhanced nor contrasted against Reijseger’s emotive score.