Paul Pfeiffer is known primarily for his video works that utilize digital manipulations to capture mass media spectacles. The element of time is offered up for examination as the soundless continuous loops repeatedly emphasize particular movements. Moments in time are de-contextualized and imbue the figures’ actions with multiple meanings, challenging viewers to question what they see.
Pfeiffer implicates the viewer in all of us. He reminds us that in our obsession with and our knowledge of technology we collude in the media takeover we condemn. Through his video installations offer a slice of familiar part of contemporary culture and life, we know the players, we know the hooks, we see ourselves. In The Long Count, a three-part video installation based on footage of Mohammed Ali and in Race Riot, a video sculpture incorporating an excerpt following the Chicago Bulls victory during the 1996 NBA Championship, Pfeiffer has tapped into the undercurrents of pop culture that are shaped and propounded by the digital images that are a part of the visual vocabulary of contemporary American life.
“Like a guilty wish or an unconscious desire, technology is already deep inside you, ” Pfeiffer states. French philosopher, Guy Debord elucidates Pfeiffer’s work, and his words, in the 1967 treatise “The Society of the Spectacle,” when the author alludes to the function of the spectacle as “the total justification for the conditions and aims of the existing system.” Pfeiffer’s work compels the viewer to question his role: Is media “other” to community or are we essential to its success?
Paul Pfeiffer was born in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1966. He received his BFA from San Francisco Art Institute and his MFA from Hunter College, New York City. The recipient of an MIT List Visual Arts Center Residency in 2001-2002, he received The Bucksbaum Award, The Whitney Museum, New York in 2000. Pfeiffer’s solo exhibitions include Sex Machine, The Project, Los Angeles, CA (2001) and Site Santa Fe, New Mexico, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Il. Recent group exhibitions include Out of Place, Museum of Contemporary At, Chicago; Graz 2003, Graz, Austria, 100 Artists See God, Independent Curators International; and The Moderns, Castello di Rivoli, Turin, Italy. The artist lives and works in New York City.