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St. Petersburg photo, video exhibit is ticket to new worlds

ST. PETERSBURG

What's the difference between a trip and a journey? You'll see at "Film Lingual 3," a new photography and video show at C. Emerson Fine Arts.

We all will have our own ideas about the distinctions. For me a trip is usually just movement from one point to the next, sometimes for recreation, sometimes work. A journey has an expectation of perceptual changes, shifts in thinking. A change of view that changes us.

Most of the works are landscapes. Some use a straightforward documentary style; others choose a conceptual approach. But each draws us into some new world, whether foreign or familiar.

Austin Nelson's color prints have an elegiac quality to them, found moments of solitude or abandonment in an anonymous motel or Lisa Marie Presley's playground area at the famous Graceland. Windower looks at a storefront's glass that reveals nothing of its interior, reflecting back a bright patch of trees that obscures the silhouette of the photographer.

Joe Walles takes us to the American West in a series of beautifully composed black and white photographs — classic gelatin silver prints — that capture the sense of our misguided efforts to tame its wide open spaces. (Walles, by the way, is a photo editor at the St. Petersburg Times.)

An ocean away, we see African children in an orphanage. Jamie Jackson goes against stereotypes in capturing their lighthearted play with no subtext hinting at circumstances that brought them to that shelter. Leah Oates, too, shifts our media-driven assumptions in examples from her "Beijing" series, which look at crumbling buildings that could be in any urban area.

David Audet continues his exploration of Ybor City with shots of the famously funky shop La France he makes unrecognizable by cutting prints into strips, mixing them up a bit and weaving them together, inviting us to see it in a different way.

The best in my opinion is Dana Plays' mesmerizing double-screen video of a French train coming and going through a tunnel, into a station. The editing is near-perfect, with the engine appearing in massive solidity in one screen and becoming opaque as it travels to the second screen, a ghostly machine transposed over its landscape.

Some of the works don't really fit into my thematic interpretation of the show as a whole. Matt Lindhardt's beautiful underwater photography of a woman (her head, above water, is not in the frame) wearing an evening ensemble is a riff on traditional fashion photography, and Brandon Dunlap's dual image of a pretty girl screen-printed onto wood is a pop homage. It's full of rich, quirky details that deserve more attention than the girl.

On Saturday night only, additional videos will be screened at the gallery, so maybe plan your own trip downtown, have a bite to eat and stop in to see the show. Who knows? It could turn into a journey.

Lennie Bennett can be reached at lennie@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8293.

>> If You Go

Film Lingual 3

The exhibition at C. Emerson Fine Arts, 909 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, continues through June 20. Gallery hours are

11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and noon to

5 p.m. Saturday. Free.

Free video screening from 7 to

10 p.m. Saturday.

To preview Dana Plays' Ville France video, go to Lennie Bennett's blog, Critics Circle, at blogs.tampabay.com/arts.

St. Petersburg photo, video exhibit is ticket to new worlds 06/10/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 10, 2009 4:30am]
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