It's shocking and mysterious no matter how many times it happens. Science isn't sure why bodies jerk back from the edge of sleeping, take one last violent stand before the muscles succumb to all-night paralysis. A pair of Seattle artists have been considering the hypnagogic jerk as surrealist theater. Rachel Green and Seth Sexton are building a soft bed that's also a shadowy forest in the dark, windowless gallery at Jack Straw New Media.
In a video projected on the wall, the two artists perform a dance in an actual forest that looks primeval, a sort of kill or be killed place. But in the gallery, the floor is covered in warm, soft, inviting canvas. Overhead is a canopy of tree branches painted white, casting webs of fairytale shadows. Branches wrapped in colored yarn lean against the walls. One large multicolored tangle delivers a blast of recognition: your brain's connective maze seeing itself in the form of a sculpture.
When their show "opened" on March 31, the gallery was empty. The show now culminates in three performances (May 21, 28, and 30, 6-9 pm) of an original dance composition set to a sound score by Salo, featuring Green's water-clear voice. I got to see them practice the choreography (or was it a performance?). In the twilit bed/forest, they visited waking and dreaming across the rough in-between. She accompanied her own recorded voice at times, maybe leading, maybe following it. Their jerking and falling, resisting and succumbing, was transporting yet so familiar. I empathized with my own body.