The artist describes it on Vimeo as simply “a video studying balance, isolated from a fixed horizon, inspired by disorienting episodes in life.” But when seen as a part of Cheekwood’s video installation gallery’s Material Apparatus exhibit, Jacob Tonski’s “Balance Study, Threshold” is a hypnotic example of audience engagement.
The minute-long piece shows Tonski inside a five-sided wooden box that’s just large enough for him to stand in. The box is attached to a wheel, and a camera films him from a fixed point as the wheel spins and he attempts to maintain his balance. A chaotic version of Lionel Richie’s “Dancing on the Ceiling” video comes to mind.
Bring your friends. Watching the audience’s natural attempts to help Tonski orient himself by swaying back and forth themselves is similar to watching people playing on an old PlayStation, jerking to the left and right as if to mimic what they’re trying to get the video avatar to do.