Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, in 1966, Paul Pfeiffer spent a great deal of his childhood in the Philippines. In 1990, he moved to New York City, where he received an MFA from Hunter College, and participated in the Whitney Independent Study Program. Pfeiffer’s primary art form is video, but he also incorporates aspects of photography, as well as sculpture, into many of his pieces. His primary focus is the role that mass media plays in shaping consciousness. A lot of his work consists of capturing sporting events like basketball or boxing and editing out the stars that most viewers watch the sport for, leaving behind the sporting equipment or just the surrounding arena and audience. By doing this, Pfeiffer approaches such ideas as invisibility, allowing for a variety of reactions, particularly ones of curiosity, which comes with not being able to fully comprehend the environment due to the strange nature that’s created when simply removing something/someone so significant. Much of the work produced by Pfeiffer is made with the pure intent of arousing the viewer’s curiosity with scenes that give off a certain uncommon eeriness or audio-visual silence.
Through his style and goals, Pfeiffer immediately caught my attention and truly made me curious. You see and read about things like the elements he’s manipulating in works of fiction like the Harry Potter stories (i.e., invisibility cloaks), but when applied to a real life situation or event, it plays with your mind and stirs up a reaction. I feel as though his art works in more than just the visual context. It attacks all your senses viscerally, often invoking fear or a certain curiosity and wonder. The events in his video art make you react, while his photography, for example “24 Landscapes,” has so much texture that it invites you in, making you want to run into the oncoming waves. It’s evident, outside the “awe” factor of his work, that there is a lot of time and effort put into each piece, removing people or symbols typically associated with the subject depicted. The time and thought put into each of his pieces is what makes his work so hypnotizing or intriguing to view. Pfeiffer’s work is both effective at creating feelings within the viewer, as well as inviting them into a one-of-a-kind experience that tests their senses.