Paul Pfeiffer creates art through number of different mediums including video, photography, and sculpture. His art is very technical, focusing on accuracy and meticulous detail. His subject matter is also very versatile. He is well known for his art involving sports, especially basketball, so I was not surprised surprised when I typed “paul pfeffier artist” into google image and found numerous images of leaping basketball players and stadiums.
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse is a series of photographs of professional basketball players, in which he uses a subtractive method and erasing all other players from the court, except for one. This shows how powerful the lighting is on the court, the incredible number of fans in the stadiums, and the kind of experience the athlete is having and the pressure he is under. In an artist statement he describes it as “an overload throwing you off balance.” The Long Count (The Rumble in the Jungle) is another example of his work where he erases Muhammad Ali from three of his most well known matches, in video form.
One of his pieces that created called “Orpheus Descending” was installed at the World Trade Center PATH Entrance the World Financial Center North Bridge. It is set up in two different areas in two different ways: one is a small screen “resembling surveillance equipment” at the PATH train’s elevator area, and two plasma televisions at the North Bridge of the World Financial Center. The film played 24/7, showing 10 weeks of the life cycle of chickens starting from when they were still in their eggs, then hatching, and then growing into adults on a free range farm. It was created to be seen for a short period of time, on a daily basis, to take it in almost subconsciously. He also thought that people seeing these images of nature, it will restore a spiritual balance.
In an interview with Art:21, he says:
I guess that’s the contradiction I feel working as an artist today. These days we live in a world of incredible image making tools and in a way it’s not even the tools themselves. It’s that you are really dealing with a system. There’s a huge machine, or a huge infrastructure that undergirds every individual image we see on TV. And for me it’s very hard to dissociate the single image from that entire network. So the question always comes up: who is using who, or who makes who? Is the image making us or do we make images? It seems really difficult to tell these days. It’s a double-edged sword.
At first I was not a huge fan of Pfeiffer’s work, mostly because everything I had seen by him was what I had thought was, illustrating sporting events, and I hadn’t really read his artist statements. After reading some of his interviews and seeing some of his other stuff, I realized how deep his art is, and how much thought is put into each piece, which gave me a new appreciation for his art. He plans what he will do and he really takes advantage of what can be done digitally with art. I also really appreciate his innovation and his technical abilities. Orpheus Descending was probably my favorite piece of his. I liked that it was so ongoing, and that it captured nearly an entire life cycle of these birds. It’s something that comes off as very basic and simple, but is something that we as people can kind of relate to. We recognize what chickens are, but unless you are raising them, you don’t really know what they spend their days doing. The contrast that he creates with the birds and their environment and where these videos are placed, and how people only really see the video in passing and maybe only pick up the images subconsciously is very interesting in my opinion. I find it very successful.