POST BY KAREN ARCHEY
Best Buy customer retrieving his motorbike next to Borna Sammak’s title piece
I can only imagine what the handful of potential Best Buy customers were thinking when they happened upon Borna Sammak‘s video installation at the retailer’s SoHo location last night. Perhaps, “Only in New York City do I try to buy a High Def TV and I walk into a fucking art opening!” Sammak’s installation primarily takes place in Best Buy’s lower level “Home Entertainment” floor, subsuming every TV monitor available. Made specifically for HD equipment, the intensely optical video-paintings drew a packed store, allowing little room for visitors to browse around the installation, let alone shop. The artist worked with curator Thomas McDonnell who conceived of locating Sammak’s work in Best Buy.
Producing endless works with a distinct retinal aesthetic, Sammak processes footage taken from nature documentaries such as Planet Earth–the sort of programming usually seen on Best Buy’s monitors. McDonnell even thought to utilize the store’s Surround Sound demonstration unit. Upon pressing it’s “demo” button, the viewer is greeted with a wave of sound corresponding to Sammak’s videos.
McDonnell comments in an interview on Art in America between himself, artist Kari Altmann and Sammak that Best Buy ranks among one of the only locations carrying enough high-definition AV equipment to exhibit Sammak’s video series. Museums would even be stretched to facilitate the work. Although this location obviously comes with some conceptual ramifications — it’s hard to tell to what degree the artist and retailer’s relationship is hostile or symbiotic — the installation was successful in utilizing the space inventively not to mention drawing a sizable art world crowd. Speaking to the latter, AFC intern Matthew Wells Gaffney overheard a cake-carrying sorority girl outside the store, “Like wow, is Best Buy the new hot spot or something?” We asked ourselves the same question.