Young Projects Gallery
Design Lab @Pacific Design Center (2nd fl. Blue)
8687 Melrose Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90069
Each of the 15 artists included in Symmetry/Gates are working with digital rendering software to push the idea of abstraction and collage into new territories. Each uses a different approach, and often different software, yet what unites them is a strong, painterly sense and an interest pushing that idea further into the realm of the psychological, the emotional and the dimensional.
The show features a number of major works including Cliff Evans’ overwhelmingly large, five-screen, five-channel digital collage piece, Empyrean, which delves into sociopolitical ideas through images mined from the Internet; Evan Roth and Ben Engebreth’s White Glove Tracking, uses various software programs to transform Michael Jackson’s 1983 performance of ‘Billy Jean’ into gestural expressions that only digital software can achieve (The piece was made by five different artists: Roth, Zach Lieberman, Jung-Hoon Seo, Tim Knapen, Jonathan Cremieux). New York’s Matthew Weinstein’s Siam is an equally fanciful, mind-bending musical experience that features talking fish and an utterly absurd libretto. Columbia’s Santiago Caicedo, who’s considered a master of 3D, presents his latest work, Uyuyui (anaglyph version), which follows two characters falling through a rabbit’s hole of graphic animation. Uyuyui shares the same screen with LA’s J-Walt, who presents his own recent 3d effort, Genetic Mainspring, which soars through a universe of ever-evolving amoeba-like forms. Turkey’s Candas Sisman and LA’s Audri Phillips share the main, ultrawide screen in the main galley and present two abstract works that show how video works can achieve an intensely painterly effect, with sensuous movements and highly crafted image orchestration.
LA’s Jim Ellis occupy yet another screen, offering two works that use Polfrich 3D techniques, where the use of a darkened left lens over the eye creates a different 3D effect, where layer upon layer of hallucinatory, graphic abstractions reveal themselves. Beyond that is a single meditative abstract work by the Netherland’s Roland Schimmel, which uses a minimal palette and minimal means to create an intense psychological experience. And finally, London’s Chris Cairns, best known for his rock videos (LCD Soundsystem), Berlin’s Daniel Franke, and LA’s Arno Kroner present a number of works that balance the figurative with the abstract and the humorous with the surreal.
These works move beyond traditional notions of video, painting or abstraction to create unique expressions that can only be achieved through software programs such as Maya and Touch. In the process they are realizing what Gilles Deleuze described as “the potentiality of the fold.” For Deleuze the fold is not simply a form of reflexivity, which can be used to explain subjectivity, but something that multiplies itself continuously into the infinite. Thus Modernist ideas of the grid or figure/ground are rendered obsolete or superannuated by comparison, while ideas of the fold can be used to push forms further into space and time. Frank Lloyd Wright once described a similar notion of “depth dimension,” which introduced the psychological to physical spaces, while more recent architects such as Zaha Hadid, Peter Eisenman, Greg Lynn and John Rajchman have attempted to achieve dynamic, physical spaces where ‘inside’ space is topologically in contact with the ‘outside’ space. Or, as Deleuze writes, “a space that is comparable to a continuous labyrinth resembling a sheet of paper, where a fold is always folded within a fold, like a cavern within a cavern.”
The artists in Symmetry/Gates are using the same software to achieve a similar folding quality, which ultimately challenges traditional notions of what an image, photograph or painting can be. Thus, if there is a funereal suggestion to the title of the show, it’s only as a requiem for camera-based work, which is quickly being eclipsed by digital mediums. And that, as Timothy Murray writes in “Digital Baroque,” may have lasting consequences in terms of this history of visual art. “The important legacy of this work is not simply the thematic corollaries between early modern history and contemporary art,” he writes, “but how their engagement with [aesthetic traditions] provide the electronic arts with psychosocial paradigms that are significantly broader and more elastic than those framed merely by modernism, the avant-garde or even the philosophical imperatives of cultural and subjective dialectics—these are [essential] critical frameworks.”