Stephen Slappe’s "Crossroads," a 4-channel video and sound installation at the Leftbank Building (240 N Broadway) puts the viewer in the middle of the action in the middle of nowhere. Beginning with either a powerful loneliness or a sense of wide-open freedom ("don’t fence me in"), "Crossroads" situates the viewer at the center of an intersection (four screens surround the viewer) of two country roads cutting through fields of brown grass blowing in the wind. You could close your eyes and know exactly where you are, the sound of the wind is so vivid. What happens next—a running man, a speeding car, and the viewer’s place at the center of it—is both a clever challenge to perception and a momentary thrill ride. It’s a rare video work that provokes physical sensation in the viewer. Typically video boxed up safely in a monitor or projected far away. "Crossroads" is something different.
"Crossroads" is part of the Portland2010 Biennial. There is a reception for the artist, tonight, Wednesday, April 21 from 5:30-7:30 at the Leftbank Building (240 N Broadway). But you might need to return so that you can hear the piece. It’s important. Hours are Friday to Sunday 12-6 PM through April 25.