Alumna Ellen Kozak and Scott D. Miller: riverthatflowsbothways at Hudson River Museum

Ellen Kozak and Scott D. Miller. riverthatflowsbothways (detail), 2016. HDTV four-channel video installation. Courtesy of the artists.
ACT at MIT

This summer, the Hudson River Museum presents riverthatflowsbothways, a four-channel video installation by artist and CAVS alumna Ellen Kozak (SMVisS ’79) and composer Scott D. Miller. Taking its name from the translation of the Lenape word for the Hudson River, Kozak and Miller’s unique collaboration weds three video channels with a single audio channel using non-synchronous loops that present viewers with ever changing compositional combinations. Miller’s string ensemble score features ambiguous hymn-like chords, recalling Shape-note singing and the harmonic adventures of Charles Ives. While Miller draws upon the history of American music, Kozak’s video connects to both contemporary and historical traditions focused on perception in the visual arts.

Kozak draws from her ongoing practice as a painter as well as from her background in the early formative years of video. Without offering views or realistic representations, Kozak’s piece is an immersive meditation on the movement and luminosity of the river. Working beside the Hudson River, Kozak uses the river’s surface as a giant watery lens. Reflection, color, pattern, and sound coalesce within the gradually changing images, bringing viewers in contact with the river as a living organism. Riverthatflowsbothways creates a contemplative space that lengthens one’s sense of time, evokes feelings of wonderment and comfort, but also conjures presentiments of destabilizing undercurrents. Ecology, music, and dazzling visual imagery coalesce in Kozak and Miller’s work as a vital reminder of our connection to nature.

Kozak graduated from the Center for Advanced Visual Studies with Master of Science in Visual Studies, and was an early pioneer in video art. Since 1994, her work has focused more and more on the changing optical effects of the Hudson River through a daily practice of painting outdoors. She has had one previous solo exhibition at the Hudson River Museum, in 2001, and has shown more recently at Cross Contemporary Art, the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art, and the Katonah Museum of Art. She has taught at Bennington College, Princeton University, and Pratt Institute. Her work is in the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Tochigi Prefectural Museum of Fine Art, Japan, and the Hudson River Museum.

The exhibit is on view from June 1 – September 9, 2018.