By Mark Jenkins published in The Washington Post

Donna Conlon & Jonathan Harker

Video art, by definition, moves. Yet it is often stiff and static. Not the collaborations of Donna Conlon and Jonathan Harker, now dancing across screens in the lobby of the Capitol Skyline Hotel as part of the Washington Project for the Arts’s “Hothouse Video” program. The Panama-based artists make short videos — these six are 24 seconds to nine minutes long — in which inanimate things come playfully to life.

Conlon and Harker’s earlier pieces use unbroken single shots, and human hands often enter the frame. More recently, the duo has edited shots together to create seamless romps such as “Tropical Zincphony,” in which mangoes bounce across metal roofs with rhythmic assurance. If the artists started as found-object puppeteers, they are now choreographers.

Music and games are motifs of these vignettes, which can be seen online at vimeo.com, but the goal is not idle whimsy. “Drinking Song” plays the melody Americans know as “The Star-Spangled Banner” on a collection of beer bottles, all Panamanian brands. It is a clinkingly gentle way of noting that Panama has little choice but to hum an American tune.

Hothouse Video: Donna Conlon & Jonathan HarkerOn view through May 3 at Washington Project for the Arts at the Capitol Skyline Hotel, 10 I St. SW. 202-234-7103. www.wpadc.org.

Date

April 24, 2015

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