It’s Vegas, Baby!

When people first see Olivo Barbieri's overhead photographs, nobody believes he’s a photographer. They think he’s an obsessed modelmaker. It takes a lot of inspecting and some technical jargon — he uses something called a “tilt-focus” lens — to make you believe that his portrait of, say, Rome was shot from a helicopter and not from atop a ladder. Everything looks fake, constructed out of plastic; some areas are weirdly out of focus, others in sharp detail. He’s done some voodoo on depth-of-field. His short films of cities like Los Angeles and Shanghai are even more disarming, given the discombobulating addition of motion. His piece site specific_LAS VEGAS 05, part of the exhibit “Double Down: Two Visions of Vegas,” makes the city look more unreal than it actually is. He boarded his helicopter out in the desert and flew into the glittery strip, circling casinos, with the tut-tut of the blades mixed with a soundtrack of tinkling slots, murmuring crowds, and piano music. It’s on YouTube, but the jackpot is seeing it in a darkened room on a big screen. It appears with Stephen Dean's No More Bets, which transforms the city’s signage into abstract color.
Sept. 18-Jan. 4, 2008

 
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