Phase Shifting Index (2020)

Seven channel HD video
35:19 min
Courtesy the artist and KÖNIG GALERIE Berlin, London, Tokio

Phase Shifting Index (2020) depicts seven autonomous groups engaged in embodied, movement-based belief systems that aspire to induce parallel realities. Employing various outmoded 20th-century media, ranging from 16mm film to Hi-8 video tape, Shaw presents what appears to be documentary footage as the distant future, creating cognitive dissonance within the viewers’ relation to a sense of place and time. The videos are narrated in the past-tense and delivered by a singular male voice in a style reminiscent of 20th century British ethnographic documentaries that detailed the practices and beliefs of foreign cultures. The dress, style and choreography of the subjects suggest found historical footage from the 1960s to the 1990s. The groups incorporate gestural elements that span a wide cross-section of codified subcultural and spiritual movements, from the analytical to somatic and meditative to ecstatic. Through variations of modern dance, popping and locking, jump-style, hardcore skanking, and trust exercises, they explore the potentials of physically altering reality.

At the peak of the dramatic action, the films begin to come undone in an ecstatic chaos that lands the entire installation in a cross-temporal choreographic sync. The subjects of all films join together in a repetitive and cathartic dance set to a hypnotic musical track that unites the spaces into a pulsing, synchronized whole. This cohesive moment of dance spans across decades of time and media. Suddenly, all screens rupture in a meltdown of digital visual effects that consume the installation. Bodies tear apart, collide and pixelate as they move between screens and worlds, effectively devolving from a para-fictional documentary compilation to an immersive psychedelic art installation within seconds.