Before It's Dark

Brent Watanabe at McLeod Residence (R.I.P.)

At their opening party in early 2007, the McLeod Residence was wall-to-wall bodies, a huge crowd there to check out the Belltown art space/salon/bar/private club. That night you could photograph yourself using their electronic photo booth and see your image moments later as part of the scene. And it was a scene, exclusive and then less so, until its morphing identity proved too problematic for the city. Sadly, McLeod Residence will close on October 31. (If you vogued for the photo booth on opening night, or anytime since, you can find your visage on the venue's Web site, where more than 35,000 images live.) A moment of nostalgia, please, for the effort of a good idea. Perhaps it's appropriate then that one of the last works on view in this gallery space's current incarnation is a strangely sad animated piece, Stack: Heap: Loop by Brent Watanabe. Progressing from an idyllic farmscape to a polluted landfill, a long-necked duck (with its head bent backwards, trailing along the ground) is shown in a black-and-white visual narration. The duck's webbed feet take it through traffic and past cement blocks, discarded coffee cups, and aerosol cans. The simply sketched monochromatic loop is punctuated with desperate quacks, the cheep of ducklings (which pop out of the duck's long neck), and sounds reminiscent of video games (Climax Golden Twins contributed to the audio). The duck seems to be losing this one, and perhaps the cement median is winning (at one point a green bar graph appears, illustrating what might be the score). Some big-headed ducklings are yellow, but the vast majority of the video is colorless. In a corner of the gallery space, hidden behind a mess of monitors and a tangle of wiring, you'll spot the reflection of a nest of ducklings. Perhaps there's a hopeful future here after all. As for McLeod Residence, Lele and Buster McLeod are currently hunting for a new venue. 

 
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