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Ed Atkins, Ribbons, 2014, three-channel HD video, color, sound, 13 minutes 18 seconds.

Ed Atkins

Gavin Brown's Enterprise | Harlem

Ed Atkins, Ribbons, 2014, three-channel HD video, color, sound, 13 minutes 18 seconds.

Pixel-thin in aspect but frequently profound in effect, the disturbingly polished motion-capture video works of British artist Ed Atkins engage, and complicate, the sensory-emotional space known as the “uncanny valley.” First limned in the world of early robotics, the concept was an attempt to describe the disorienting feeling of revulsion that one experiences as artificial life forms approach—but do not quite achieve—exact human likeness. Obviously motivated in its formulation by modern techno-formal concerns, the idea is indebted to Sigmund Freud’s decades-earlier consideration of the uncanny, in which the psychoanalyst devoted considerable attention to unpacking the etymological subtleties of the German term for the sensation, unheimlich. It’s a word whose valences are well suited to the disconcertions of Atkins’s program—evoking both the unfamiliar and the “

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