Jennifer West, Futurity Chandelier Polyhedron Spinners, 2024, on view at LACMA's Stark Bar, © Jennifer West, photo © Museum Associates/LACMA by Erin Wright 

Catch Jennifer West's Video Work on the Stark Bar Screens

July 2, 2024
Rita Gonzalez, Curator and Department Head, Contemporary Art
Erin Wright, Director of Artist Initiatives and Commissioning Editor/Producer, LACMA Productions

Since 2011, Rita Gonzalez, Curator and Department Head, Contemporary Art, and Erin Wright, Director of Artist Initiatives and Commissioning Editor/Producer, LACMA Productions, have been programming the screens at LACMA’s Stark Bar. In this post, they highlight two new works by Jennifer West that are the last in the series, while also reflecting on the last 13 years of programming. West's Futurity Chandelier Polyhedron Spinners (2024) and Cat Over Moon (2022/2024) are on view on the Star Bar screens through Sunday, July 14.

The screens at the Stark Bar were installed in fall 2010 with an invitation to artist Brody Condon to make a three-channel work for the television monitors at the new bar, launching a series of commissions. Condon created a work based on the choreography of Trisha Brown’s Line Up performances, collaborating with Rodarte, who created flowing costumes for the performers that became the source for the video installation.

Condon’s installation was followed by many notable loans and artist commissions for well over a decade. We mined the collections of media non-profits like New York–based Electronic Arts Intermix to showcase works by Vito Aconcci, John Baldessari, and Nan Hoover, and curated a program of ambient, silent film, and video work in collaboration with L.A.’s own Center for Visual Music. The presentations on the Stark Bar screens rotated every six to eight months and were connected to current exhibition when possible, featuring mostly L.A. and California-based artists, including Brian Bress, Carolina Caycedo, Brody Condon, Victoria Fu, Bia Gayotto, Sabrina Gershwandtner, Owen Kydd, Michael Mandiberg, Kirsten Mosher Ranu Mukherjee, Lewis Klahr, Owen Kydd, Kirsten Mosher, Pau Pescador, Heather Rasmussen, Christopher Richmond, Cauleen Smith, and Jennifer West. 

More recently, in collaboration with Cactiod Labs and Lady Cactoid, we featured digital works created on the blockchain as part of a larger project to support the museum. Artists included Tyler Hobbs, William Mapan, OxDEAFBEEF, Monica Rizzoli, IX Shells, Jen Stark, Emily Xie, and Sarah Zucker. 

For our last presentation, we invited Jennifer West to revisit the screens with a new film. Los Angeles architecture and landscapes are frequent subjects for the artist, with a larger prevailing interest in memory, place, and cinema, and with Futurity Chandelier Polyhedral Spinners (2024), West reimagines the memory of LACMA’s Venini Poliedri chandelier that hung in the former Bing theater as a kinetic spinning sculpture. The Murano glass polyhedrons are recuperated as hypnotic sculptural objects and as filmed images, highlighting the polyhedral form: many-sided, ever-changing, and components of something larger. In the film, the lights spin close to the ground, hovering as if they are landing from space. 

As with many of West’s works, the filming process becomes part of the work. In this case, each shot, recorded on 16mm with a Bolex H16 camera, each shot lasts as long as the hand-cranked battery allows (approximately 25 seconds) and the flashes of light between shots and rolls are included to highlight the film’s material sensitivity. Using in-camera double exposures in parts, the spinning lights set in torquing rotations are multiplied, highlighting the modular geometry of the polyhedron. West’s interest in the chandelier in motion is a nod to the end of Vera Chytilova’s film Daisies (1966), where the chandelier becomes an object to swing on and eventually falls from the ceiling.

In order to highlight different facets of her work, West also lent a recent work titled Cat Over Moon. Here, she links the special effects of history’s first fantastic films (think Georges Méliès) with the phenomenon of the contemporary spread of cat videos on the internet, interpreted by the artist as a form of “low art.” The video features different sequences of a cat passing in front of the full moon and landscape, created in a painting technique that the artist has developed and perfected over several years by laying color directly onto an analog film strip and keeping her gestures clearly visible.

Jennifer West, Cat Over Moon, 2022/2024, on view at LACMA's Stark Bar, © Jennifer West, photo © Museum Associates/LACMA by Erin Wright

Cat Over Moon is an homage to early photography and cinema. In 1826 or 1827, Nicéphore Niépce made what is widely acknowledged as the first photo—a ghostly but recognizable view of the moon. Louis Daguerre also made early daguerreotypes of the crescent moon, but it was left to English scientist, chemist, and historian John William Draper to make the very first detailed photograph of the full moon in 1840. Meanwhile, the feline was also a muse in early motion picture film: an early example is Étienne-Jules Marey’s 1894 cat motion studies, which feature a white cat walking across the screen.

It has been a delight to showcase time-based media in the context of LACMA’s public gathering space that has allowed anyone visiting the museum, or even just walking through its public spaces, to experience work by so many talented artists. We look forward to the possibilities that the new building will bring for digital works.


Jennifer West, Futurity Chandelier Polyhedron Spinners, 2024
16mm transferred to 4K, 3-channel version, 6 minutes, 29 seconds

Kinetic Fabrication: Joe Stewart
Polyhedron Chandelier Glass Parts: Venini Glass, Murano, Venice, Italy
Film Processing and Scan: Spectra Film and Video, North Hollywood
Cinematographer: Peter West
Production Assistant: Pegah Bahador
Art Handler: Lucy Birney
Camera: Bolex H16 Reflex 16mm

Jennifer West, Cat Over Moon, 2022/2024
3-channel version, 4K (transferred from hand-painted 35mm film negative and print), 14 minutes, 38 seconds

Performers: Munchkin the Cat, the full moon
Cinematographer: Peter West
1st AC: John “Poodle” Scivoletto
P.A.: Reid Calvert
Camera: Arricam ST 35mm Motion Picture
Lens: 24-180mm Fujinon Premier Zoom
Lens for Moon: 1000mm Clairmont T4.5 Lens
Film: Kodak 50D, 250D and 500T and recycled re-cans from television shows and commercials of 250D and 500T.
Film Lab—Processing, Printing, Internegative, Scanning and Coloring: Fotokem, North Hollywood, Production Services: Mark Van Horne, Colorist: Greg Curry
Studio Asst.:  Kelsey Boncato
Film negative and print painted frame by frame by inks, dyes, food coloring, Los Angeles tap water by Jwest with assistance by Kelsey Boncato.