DETROIT — In the three-minute video titled, “Robocop Suffers a Glitch and Takes to the Forest to Come Up With Hollywood Movies About American Landscape Painters,” a robotic voice makes the following statement:
Bob Ross and Thomas Kinkaid are brought back to life to make landscapes in computers for an alien civilization that creates simulations of other planets — and they team up to find out if life on Earth was ever real in the first place.
As summary statements go, this is possibly the best description for the aesthetics, ambition, and effect of Jeremy Couillard’s exhibit Believes in Reincarnation Hates Hugs at Youngworld. There are intense, animated tableaus and lush, digital landscapes that put the viewer in first-person perspective — I found myself remembering the graphic adventure game Myst, from the early ‘90s, when I sat in on the show’s eponymous video loop. The work here leverages some of the media platforms Couillard deployed for his installation, “Out of Body Experience Clinic,” at the Louis B. James Gallery earlier this year in New York, but tailored to the massive scale of the Youngworld gallery space. The “clinic” ushered viewers, one at a time, from a waiting room and into a darkened basement — an environment Youngworld Director of Programming and artist Ben Hall described as, “Not medically clean, but torture-chamber clean” — where viewers donned Occulus Rift glasses that guided them through a simulated, out-of-body experience…
Holy shmoly, guys. This one was pretty mind-bending.