Small gestures 

Are sports fans doing the wave expressing the wonders of Darwinian progress? How about the woman shown in embarrassing detail contemplating the goober she has just scooped from her eye?

If the video installation NATURAL: SELECTION at Eyedrum doesn't exactly bolster your sense of the human race's march of progress, it does give a sense of the poignancy and quirkiness of being human. Looking at Chapel Hill, N.C.-based artists Joyce Rudinsky and Erik Niemi's installation, there is a sense of connection to the whole loopy comedy of errors that comprises occupancy of the sorry sack of flesh and blood we call home.

The most compelling aspect of the three-part installation is a video projection in which the artists scrutinize anonymous human gestures, finding an oddball poetry in the tiniest moments. Like visual DJs, the two collaborators mix and loop these pieces of footage. On a subway platform, two strangers perform a hilariously unintentional choreography when their gestures are manipulated by the videomakers: a tall woman's anxious, fidgety shuffles become a herky-jerky ballet, while next to her an Asian mother is looped to open her mouth in an enormous yawn again and again. Move in close enough, the artists suggest in their science of momentology, and unconscious gestures become magical. On an airport tarmac, a worker absentmindedly kicking a hose out of his way is manipulated so that that casual kick becomes a virtual Holiday on Ice pirouette, the worker's toes pointed and arms scooping the air like Baryshnikov.

In another video projection, two yuppieish, well-groomed men act out what could be the ancient battle of the copy editors as they wrestle Greco-Roman style in slow motion. The artists have hung a series of variously sized screens in front of the projection so that the increasingly sweaty tussling is broken into fragments, again highlighting individual moments and small details.

Together the videos build a case for vision as a constantly changing natural selection of its own, a case of choosing what and how to see.

NATURAL: SELECTION continues through Nov. 13 at Eyedrum Art and Music Gallery, 290 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive., Suite 8. Wed., Fri., Sat., noon-5 p.m. 404-522-0655. www.eyedrum.org. Joyce Rudinsky and Erik Niemi will present a media performance related to their installation Sat., Nov. 13, 2-3 p.m. The event is free.

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