Paul Pfeiffer

The Pure Products Go Crazy
1998

Not on view

Paul Pfeiffer’s The Pure Products Go Crazy, a looped digital projection, replays less than a second of a scene from the 1983 movie Risky Business. In the clip, Tom Cruise’s character collapses onto a couch after playing air guitar and thrashes about in his underwear. The tiny size of the projection—it is only a few inches wide—contrasts with the scale of Cruise’s fame, and although the actor is the “pure product” to which the title (taken from a William Carlos Williams poem) refers, his celebrity is nowhere in evidence and his face is obscured. Pfeiffer employs footage from cinema, popular culture, and sports broadcasts in his digital work, and this recontextualization—often accompanied by resizing and alteration—forces viewers to slow down in evaluating it. Watching Cruise on a loop is mesmerizing, prompting us to pay attention to the very process of paying attention. “It’s about preventing the viewer from being sucked into the illusion, becoming a passive spectator in the way people watch the news or a game show on TV,” Pfeiffer explains. “I’m asking the viewer to regard the video image with the kind of contemplative attention normally reserved for painting.”

Artist
Paul Pfeiffer

Title
The Pure Products Go Crazy

Date
1998

Classification
Sculpture

Medium
Video installation, with videotape, VHS player, projector, and metal armature; image 3 x 4 in.

Dimensions
Overall: 20 × 5 × 20 in. (50.8 × 12.7 × 50.8 cm)

Accession number
2000.151

Credit line
Purchase, with funds from the Painting and Sculpture Committee and the Film and Video Committee

Rights and reproductions information
© artist or artist’s estate



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