Critics’ Picks

Emilija Škarnulytė, No Place Rising, 2015, HD video, 9 minutes.

Emilija Škarnulytė, No Place Rising, 2015, HD video, 9 minutes.


Emilija Škarnulytė

Contemporary Art Centre, Vilnius
Vokieciu 2
November 27, 2015–January 6, 2016

Cosmic waves course through Emilija Škarnulytė’s “QSO Lens,” a solo exhibition that proposes more observable surrogates for the million missed transmissions passing through our world at any given moment. The gallery is closed off by a thick black curtain blocking all outside light. The darkness behind is perforated by the steady ping of quasar signals that have been translated from interstellar noise to frequencies audible to the human ear. Borrowed from NASA, these recordings provide the sound track to two of the three videos projected in the central viewing area. The largest of these is No Place Rising (all works 2015), a nine-minute HD video that interrupts an aerial view of an open body of water with the arrival of a mermaid, shown as little more than a silver sliver pumping her tail across the dark expanse, soft circles rippling out in her wake. Upon entering an abandoned submarine base, the camera follows her underwater then switches its attention to the jellyfish surging through the barnacle-studded canals.

This sense of propulsion is picked up by a second projection, Chronoplasm, which animates a wire-frame rendering of frozen time. Across the room, the ten-minute HD video Twin QSO uses a split-screen effect to mirror footage from NASA and an Arctic expedition. The resulting doubling is then doubled again by the reflective ceiling, so that clouds over the coastline read more like Morse code, another message missed.