Michael Lasater had a very busy 2013 for his art. Lasater is professor of mass communications and chair of New Media at IU South Bend.

This past year “was one of the busiest years in exhibition I’ve had, and different from anything previous. “I had a lot of work shown in Europe – even in India – via two curators, one in Los Angeles and the other in Cologne, Germany. The highlight, of course, was my solo show in Kansas City.”

Lasater’s show was at Charno Gallery of the Kansas City Artists Coalition. He received two “very positive reviews – one in the Kansas City Star – (that) really tops it off.”

In “The Pitch,” an alternative Kansas City weekly newspaper, the writer said Lasaters’s “single-channel high definition videos appeal to different senses. Though each composition uses an individual audio track, the cumulative effect is mesmerizing. Standing in front of one screen at a time allows you to temporarily isolate a solo voice, but what emerges is an atmospheric choral soundscape.”

To view Pitch story see http://www.pitch.com/kansascity/kansas-city-artists-coalition-christopher-troutman-michael-lasater-sarah-krawcheck-cynthia-bjorn/Content?oid=4065046

Lasater said the Kansas City show was a traditional show in a traditional gallery. “But I also put it up with all my commentary on its own Vimeo channel. I did the same with the SBMA (South Bend Museum of Art) show. I think of art video as a plural medium – considering the many artists and movements associated with it, and the many ways in which video can technically be expressed – and I try to stay as plural – as flexible as I can.”

The Kansas City Artists Coaltion building is a century-old rehab warehouse with lots of wood and exposed brick. “It reminds me of spaces all over New York City. Putting nine flat HD screens in those rooms was a bit like mounting a microwave in a pie safe – a lot of fun.”

To open up 2014, Lasater and two other new media faculty members Eric Souther and Sean Hottois are currently exhibiting new work at Regional Impact: works from IU Regional Campus Art Faculties at IU East, Richmond. The exhibit runs through March 7.

For the rest of this year, Lasater said he has done a lot of work in single channel video deriving from painting and photography. He was first a concert musician and a filmmaker. “I am probably circling back to where I came from” on a piece that points in the direction of a poetic narrative.

The new work could go in several directions. “I don’t know yet, but I strongly sense that it will be different from what I’ve done so far. Otherwise, I’ll continue to pursue as many exhibition opportunities as I can and see where it all leads.”

-- Kathy Borlik

A busy year in art for Lasater. IU South Bend News Room, February 24th, 2014.

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Videofocus: Stigmart Art Review, February 2014. __________________________________________________________

In a recent interview in the Atlantic, writer Andre Dubus III says that “the desire to step into another person’s dream world, is a universal impulse that’s shared by us all.”

Christopher Troutman and Michael Lasater open portals to allow for such glimpses in concurrent solo shows at the Kansas City Artists Coalition. While Troutman creates monumental drawings to express fragments of observed life across cultures, Lasater constructs single-channel compositions that act as undulant imaginings, addressing memory and the construction of narrative identity over time.

In trying to express his own work’s intentions, Michael Lasater quotes from William Faulkner, who writes in his novel “Absalom Absalom,” “living is one constant and perpetual instant.”

Walking into Lasater’s exhibition, one is gently immersed into a realm of sound and luminous image. Lasater, a professor of mass communications at University of Indiana, South Bend, holds degrees from Oberlin College in Ohio and Julliard in New York City and has worked as a musician, painter and documentary filmmaker.

“I try to deconstruct video through painting and photography,” he said in a recent interview. “All my stuff is collage and computer compositions.”

In “Maquette” (2012), a single-channel high-definition video with stereo; digitized, archived film; and sampled sound, two images hang on the luminous screen, one vibrant with color and contained motion, the other eerily motionless and gray.

“The left panel is layered upon itself in a tight loop, constantly in motion, and yet it goes nowhere. The right image is still. I try to get as much texture into my pieces as I possibly can,” he said.

The juxtaposition of kinetic and static, sound and silence, colorful and monochromatic is evocative of all dualities that human beings must warily balance, such as health and illness, hope and despair.

The artist doesn’t intentionally begin with an idea in mind but rather lets the creative process dictate how a piece evolves. “At some point the piece wants to organize itself, and you become more an enabler than a creator,” he said. “You follow the piece.”

-- Tanya Hartman

Dreamy drawings and video open portals to reverie. Kansas City Star, Kansas City, Missouri,January 8, 2014, reviewing Michael Lasater solo exhibition of multiple works in the Kansas City Artists Coalition December Exhibition, December 13, 2013 - January 17, 2014.

 

Down the hall, in the Charno Gallery, Michael Lasater's single-channel high-definition videos appeal to different senses. Though each composition uses an individual audio track, the cumulative effect is mesmerizing. Standing in front of one screen at a time allows you to temporarilly isolate a solo voice, but what emerges is an atmospheric choral soundscape.

Lasater's "Tryst" unites modern figures and mythology.  A sailor from a Walter Ruttmann film dances on the screen, his high leg kicks casting shadows on a brick wall behind him. Nearby, a traced nude--Iphigenia, Lasater suggests--blooms from the wall like neoclassical graffiti. On the audio track, a muffled drum sounds an ominous, martial tone over the drone of film ripping through a projector.

"Crossing, Berlin 1927" conducts images as if from a musical score. The screen features a tiled display, each broadcasting the same footage of a woman walking across a street. In each new iteration, however, Lasater toys with time--slowing the footage, skipping forward and excising parts of the movement, freezing her at different points in her journey. As you watch seconds tick by (a counter underlines each tile) and track the woman's pace, it's hard not to lose your own temporal footing. Identifying the virgin footage from Lasater's orchestra of alterations is harder still. The variations appear as real as the original theme.

Like much of Lasater's work in this exhibition, "Crossing" seems more attuned to sound and rhythm than to image. The varying tempos and repeating patterns of the woman's progress become a concerto of spatial arrangement that you want to conduct in the air.

-- Liz Cook

Nothing in the KCAC's latest show stands still. The Pitch, Kansas City, Missouri, December 24, 2013, reviewing Michael Lasater solo exhibition of multiple works in the Kansas City Artists Coalition December Exhibition, December 13, 2013 - January 17, 2014.

 

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 withtechnology, 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.

---Milissa Link

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.