The most unusual works in the exhibition are One, two, and Crossing, Berlin 1927 ...neither one fits in the standard definition of art. Both works cross the lines of traditional form and presentation, reaching, in a sense, into the world of non-real-time performance art.
-- Michael Snyder
The Traditional and the Non-Traditional, The Preface, South Bend, Indiana, September 17, 2008, reviewing the 2008 Ernestine M. Raclin School of the Arts Faculty Exhibition, Indiana University South Bend, August 28 - October 3, 2008.
Visions Fugitive: New Work in Video, Animation, and Sound illustrates in various views Lasater's incredible interpretation of a media culture. With that media he puts before his viewer a postmodern and post-pop culture experience, a true twenty-first century collection. He describes In tempo, which depicts a human figure slowly transforming its boundaries in a sense of movement, as"...seeming to seek a still, timeless point." It is a self-portrait of time and motion. Epiphany, a truly post-pop culture piece of bright colors and overtly simplified images, evokes a game-show, carnival arcade sentiment. The Visions Fugitive collection operates as a collage for the senses--dream-like, nightmare-like, trance-like.
-- Talia Reed
Collage for the Senses, Arts Everywhere, South Bend, Indiana, November 8, 2007. A review of Visions Fugitive: New Work in Video, Animation, and Sound, Distinguished Research Award Exhibition, Warner Gallery, Indiana University South Bend, October25-November 9, 2007.
(Lasater's) most haunting piece is a four-minute video entitled Flight (2000), in which a continuous series of slowing revolving cylinders moves across the screen, floating serenely above a river flowing through a darkened city at dusk.
The melancholy is distinct and abstract, since the faces in the cylinders feel irretrievably removed by their own technologies from a world they formerly inhabited.
--- James W. Mahoney, Washington, D.C. Corresponding Editor, Art in America.
Art Papers, September/October 2005, reviewing Embedded: living with technology, Athens Institute for Contemporary Art, April 9-May 29, 2005.
Also exploiting the power of montage are the deeply, darkly and compellingly poetic digital videos of Michael Lasater, whose sophistication reflects his formidable background. Currently a Professor of Communication Arts and the Director of New Media at Indiana University South Bend's Ernestine M. Raclin School of the Arts, he was a professional orchestral musician for a decade after earning degrees in late 60's from Juilliard and Oberlin, which he followed up with a career as a documentarian with awards from the American Film Festival and the San Francisco International Film Festival among others. His recent video art has shown been exhibited internationally in solo and juried group venues including the California Museum of Photography, Art in General, Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art and many others. In it he mixes his rich sound scores with digitally manipulated images that powerfully evoke issues and processes of personal psychology...perception, memory, the construction of meaning and personal narrative which were significantly influenced by his doctoral studies in cognitive psychology and psycholinguistics.
The range and variety of his recent digitally-manipulated video works reflect an astonishing creativity at work...for instance in Billboard, a neon outline of a Teddy Roosevelt-ish character eats frenetically and continuously, dissolved again and again by a variety of video effects every time a word flies across the screen, heralded by a sarcastic drum roll. The pointed words allude to paradigmatic concepts belonging to American democracy in the post-colonialist era. Lasater intends the rhetoric of Billboard (to be) that of mass advertising, vaudeville, and TV situation comedy, thus the whole is punctuated by a tinny laugh track, game-show style applause and the relentless accompaniment of a nervous snare drum riff that plays on you with the force of a pending deadline. A mere five minutes, Billboard is at once mesmerizing and horrifying. Lasater's Flight is an elegiac mixture of family and archival photographs, sound and video from his earlier documentaries, footage from early film art, processed voices and sound, analog music samples, synthesized sound and music, and new video. It traces his southern lineage from east Texas back to Mississippi and Louisiana on his mother's side, and from Arkansas back to Tennessee and North Carolina on his father's. Flight's soundtrack haunts the solemn and surreal procession of slowly spinning cans, each of which bear old and young faces which float eerily above a river flowing through a dispirited industrial city. Similarly, in Contrapunctus, his newest work, serpentine video strands move in slow counterpoint against one another, each strand carrying the fragment of a shared narrative. Voices speak in accents of the upland and tidewater south. The text fragments carried by the video strands in Contrapunctus paraphrase stories told by his parents...about their childhoods, their parents, how they met, their lives during World War II...a narrative web within which and out of which his family story proceeded. Lasater's works seduce you into thinking his memories are your own.
--- Lizzie Zucker Saltz, Director/Curator
Embedded: living with technology, Athens Institute for Contemporary Art, April 9- May 29, 2005.
The proliferation of production and consumption in contemporary culture is examined in Michael Lasater's digital video Billboard. ...Lasater presents an animated figure who devours an endless meal as single words, common commands of a consumerist culture, flash up on the screen to a tinny soundtrack of drum rolls and canned laughter and applause. Encouraging suggestions such as "strive," "excel," "exceed," lead to more violent ideas such as "push," "drive," "charge," and "contend," "contest," "combat" as the gluttonous and oblivious figure erupts in neon squiggles and eventually self-destructs, suggesting a dismal forecast for a society obsessed with achievement, power and self-satisfaction.
OnlineAthens, Athens Banner-Herald, May 19, 2005, reviewing Embedded: living with techology, Athens Institute for Contemporary Art, April 9-May 29, 2005.
In an adjoining room, the further abstracted visions of Lasater (who is an assistant professor at Indiana University South Bend) are on view. Lasater's videos explore emotions conceived through the manipulated lens of a video camera. The most poignant of these, Flight, depicts faces of people superimposed onto soup cans that float across a cityscape and waterway. As Lasater writes, the living and the dead often are equally present in story and reference; nothing is ever lost; all is told again and again and again. The rhythmic proportions of the music enhance the repetitive effect of personal memory and its cyclical reemergence.
All of Lasater's videos, in fact, are accompanied by contemporary music so that the ominous, sometimes discordant tones are equal to the visual imagery in their intended effect on the viewer. Like abstract paintings with figurative imagery out of its expected context, the work challenges our perceptions in welcome ways.
--- Julianna Thibodeaux
Virtual disrealities, Visual Arts Review | NUVO | Michael Lasater and Tiffany Holmes, Indianapolis Art Center, March 14 - April 20, 2003.
...for the award of Best of Show I chose the video Flight because of its wonderful juxtaposition of imagery in a surrealistic world. The artist approaches this medium (and the sound) in an innovative and refreshing way. To me, it doesn't offer hope like All One, but it demonstrates a possible grim glimpse of the future. Had this been a painting instead of a video, I think that it would have been just as powerful as it's imagery stuck in my mind long after I viewed it.
--- Nancy Roach
Fusion-Form-Function, Union Street Gallery, Chicago Heights, Illinois,October 1- November 5, 2004.
....a beautiful example of the filmmaker's art, technically superb and aesthetically integrated.
There are too many delights in I Have a Place, short as it is, for one review to mention. It only remains to repeat that the most admirable thing about the cassette is the manner in which all details work to illuminate the poetry. We understand at least in part the poet when he says he has been writing "about what I thought I knew" and how he came to know it.
--- F.P. Hulme
I Have a Place: The Poetry of Jim Wayne Miller, The Arts Journal, May 1986.
...an absolutely first-rate piece of work...a finely crafted short biography of a man, his work, his times, his place.
Visually, the presentation is both technically precise and beautiful to see, and the sound quality supports and complements the pictures. The overall effect of seeing and hearing this story as it unfolds is to draw the audience in and subtly compel them to pay attention. It is, in short, a good story well presented, and that is a universal quality that requires no prior knowledge on the part of the listener/viewer.
--- John Egerton, author of Generations: An American Family reviewing I Have a Place: The Poetry of Jim Wayne Miller.