new-york

Stan VanDerBeek, Movie Mural, 1968, 35-mm slides, hand-drawn scroll, slide projectors, overhead projector, multiple 35-mm and 16-mm films transferred to video, sound. Installation view. Photo: Chandra Glick.

“Dreamlands: Immersive Cinema and Art, 1905–2016”

Whitney Museum of American Art

Stan VanDerBeek, Movie Mural, 1968, 35-mm slides, hand-drawn scroll, slide projectors, overhead projector, multiple 35-mm and 16-mm films transferred to video, sound. Installation view. Photo: Chandra Glick.

INSIDE THE LUMINOUS ROOMS of “Dreamlands: Immersive Cinema and Art, 1905–2016,” numerous screens, sounds, and curatorial proposals compete for attention, bleeding into one another in an expansive and ambitious venture. As curator Chrissie Iles states in her catalogue essay, “This is not a show about cinema,” nor is it a show about immersion per se. It is, however, many other things: an exhibition of conceptual sprawl that skips around from the historical avant-garde to the internet and in between, skimming across animation, digitization, synesthesia, and interactions between the body and technology—all while testifying to the substantial and persistent challenges in successfully displaying the moving image in a museum setting.

In the exhibition’s historical anchor, Edwin S. Porter’s two-minute film Coney Island at Night (1905), the Dreamlands amusement park is illuminated in

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