Exhibition Essay by Sharon Mizota

Margaret Honda at Visitor Welcome Center

By Sharon Mizota

Margaret Honda’s installation at Visitor Welcome Center creates a beautiful, church-like effect in each of the gallery’s two rooms. The LA artist has covered the windowpanes in a variety of colored gels, making the gridded apertures look like stained glass. The rooms are empty except for pale, projected washes of color that change with the light.

The project, titled “Film (Visitor Welcome Center),” is a site-specific work in the vein of 1970s Light and Space artists who drew attention to subtle shifts in visual and physical experience. It is also a “film” that asks us to reconsider our definition of the medium.

Honda began with 90 differently colored gel sheets, one each from the current stock at Expendables Recycler, a reseller of unused filmmaking supplies. (Such gels are placed over lights to change the color of a scene.) She arranged these sheets according to the manufacturer’s numbers and applied them sequentially to the windowpanes, from top to bottom and left to right. Each windowpane becomes a frame of the film and each column of panes a filmstrip.

At Visitor Welcome Center there are 62 windowpanes. In order to accommodate all 90 gels, Honda will change out the sheets in the final week of the three-week exhibition, installing the second “reel” of the film.

Once you understand this structure, the experience becomes much more than an experiment in color and light, although as a projection, it is already a film of sorts. It is stained-glass-by-numbers, where the composition is dictated not by aesthetics, but by the dictates of commerce. The colors that help set a film’s mood are reduced to just another entry on the inventory sheet.

The piece is also an exploded film, in which every frame of the current reel is accessible all the time, turning time into space. Unmoored from the dictates of frames per second, we are free to move through the film at our own pace, creating our own narrative.

Indeed if you look at one pane at a time in sequence, the work becomes a one-off personal movie, framing the comings and goings of the surrounding Koreatown neighborhood. The trees will never ripple in the wind in exactly the same way again; that person will never stroll beneath them at precisely the same time. It will never be the same film twice. Honda’s work asks us to appreciate our unique path through the world; how life is a little movie of our own making.