Sharits was a key figure in the group of structural filmmakers that emerged in the 1960s, rejecting the illusionism and narrative drive of conventional cinema and focusing instead on the inherent qualities of film as a material and medium. Ray Gun Virus, one of the earliest “flicker” films, is a rapid succession of colored, clear, and black film frames. To make the work, Sharits filmed monochrome sheets of colored paper and then edited the footage into precisely syncopated visual rhythms. The soundtrack consists solely of the amplified sound of the film as it passes through the projector. “The projector is an audio-visual pistol,” Sharits wrote of Ray Gun Virus. “The retinal screen is a target. Goal: the temporary assassination of the viewer’s normative consciousness.”
Gallery label from Contemporary Art from the Collection, June 30, 2010–September 12, 2011.