An avant-garde video artist best known for shorts that digitally manipulate movies and television shows, Takeshi Murata started out showing at film festivals, eventually finding an audience in galleries and museums. Born in Chicago in 1974 and now based in rural upstate New York, Murata has had solo shows at D.C.’s Hirshhorn Museum, the former Deitch Projects and Salon 94, yet he remains a somewhat underrecognized figure in the art world. Screening 12 of his mesmerizing videos—ranging from 2003’s Melter 2 to 2012’s Night Moves—curator Jake Yuzna assembles the most comprehensive survey of Murata’s work to date.
Melter 2 starts like a growing flower that mutates into colorful blobs and undulating forms—all set to a trippy, ambient soundtrack. Monster Movie, from 2005, borrows footage of a Sasquatch-like character from Ringo Starr’s 1981 comedy film, Caveman, relying on distorted pixels and raucous, syncopated beats to transform the monster into a funky beast. Likewise, in 2007’s Untitled (Pink Dot), Murata alters scenes from Sylvester Stallone’s 1982 movie First Blood, turning them into melting masses of color overlaid by a pulsating pink dot synched to a hypnotic score.
Recent films, such as 2010’s Infinite Doors, are less abstract, utilizing TV game shows by continuously looping, for example, prize unveilings from The Price Is Right. These efforts are meant to reveal the media’s emotional manipulation, and are fine as far as they go. Ultimately, though, Murata is on firmer ground with his psychedelic animations.—Paul Laster