Pier and Ocean
Paul Pfeiffer b. 1966, Honolulu
Pier and Ocean
Color high-definition video, 11 min., continuous loop
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York Purchased with funds contributed by the International Director's Council and Executive Committee Members in memory of Cassey Chou: Ruth Baum, Edythe Broad, Elaine Terner Cooper, Dimitris Daskalopoulos, Harry David, Gail May Engelberg, Shirley Fiterman, Nicki Harris, Dakis Joannou, Rachel Lehmann, Linda Macklowe, Peter Norton, Tonino Perna, Elizabeth Richebourg Rea, Mortimer D. A. Sackler, Simonetta Seragnoli, David Teiger, Ginny Williams, and Elliot K. Wolk, and Sustaining Members: Tiqui Atencio, Linda Fischbach, Beatrice Habermann, Miryam Knutson, and Cargill and Donna MacMillan, 2004
A lone passenger plane moves silently across a blue sky. After it disappears from view, two other planes are seen; slowly veering toward each other, they seem headed for certain collision, but their paths cross without an explosion and the aircrafts continue unscathed on their separate ways. This inexplicable pattern is repeated again and again, each time with more planes, until nearly 150 jets momentarily converge at a single point before peacefully dispersing. Paul Pfeiffer composed this mesmerizing play of tension and release by digitally mapping footage of individual planes onto the same composition. Best known for works that merge found video footage of professional sports and entertainment with traditional religious iconography, Pfeiffer usually displays his edited videos on small LCD screens in intimate installations. In Pier and Ocean, he works on a larger scale (the image size is variable and can be projected at up to 14 feet) and with a subject that evokes contemporary associations but nevertheless resonates a sense of timelessness. The video's title alludes to Piet Mondrian's famous series of abstracted seascapes, which Pfeiffer's work recalls through its formal composition and—notwithstanding the implicit threat of violence—its sense of quiet contemplation and transcendence.