Here’s a lie: The misfortune of the present is that it will become the future’s past.
The artworks selected for this exhibition disprove that the past is a miserable precursor to the present, simultaneously mixing past and present technologies. How technology has become an everyday engagement isn’t just for .net artists. The digital world expands daily, and its constant updates are overwhelming and many. One tiny instance of the vast digital world, the Internet, consists of ephemeral moments, existing in many places at once: a single line of code can have multiple lives, simultaneously popping up in different browsers and distant locations. Looking at the past and past technologies gives artists a hole to burrow into, an entry point for thinking through just what is it that makes today’s culture so saturated with information; but nothing’s too unruly when it’s molded into a lumpy thing that’s as slow as the past, fast as the recent present.
Donna Huanca recombines disparate materials, bringing together elements from fashion, sculpture, and graphics editing programs to create a unique visual language from her ahistorical juxtapositions. In Huanca’s image, an installation view of Pop Up Shop at PG Contemporary in Houston, the installation presents itself as sliced up and flat; it could be a Photoshopped collage. However, the materials have been made by hand and sprayed with daubs of paint, belying its brute, material appearance.
Lisa Jugert’s Two Photograms — Fading and Shadows (The Curious Feeling of Safety in Association with Past Times) mimic the form of a photogram, a basic type of photography that can be reproduced by the simplest of means. Even though they look like photograms — blotchy drips give away the spray-painted process — there is also something incredibly current about how these works reorganize the new/old and digital/analog divide. It’s the traces of the easy mechanical touch of paint, of shadows made by natural light, that corrupt and and deceive. The multiple layers of translation from physical objects to a sleek 2-D image give way to the digital doubt about what you’re actually seeing.
Erik Bünger’s video, The Allens, overlays dubbed translations of Woody Allen in a rapid-fire progression, one after another. The simple schematic of this video engages with a fairly low-fi technology to render the complicated expressions of Woody Allen’s well-known cinematic persona into something even more confusing, and in a sense, untranslatable.
In Carrick Bell’s Furniture For A New Community installation and video series, the on-screen images almost have a second skin; you could touch them they’re so tactile, but they remain remote through their aggressive colors and flickering abstractions. These images translate real-time shots of disaster videos from the BP Oil Spill, the worst environmental disaster in US history. BP’s own ROV cameras transmitted information about the event and millions followed the action as it took place, but this information was unable to convey any knowledge about how the spill happened or how to fix it. It’s evidence of technology’s failure to encourage solutions and the ever-present inability of the visual to provide anything other than a declaration of “being there.”
Corinna Kirsch is a curator and writer.
Her writing has been featured in Art Papers, Motherwell Journal, Art Fag City, and other print and online publications. She was awarded the 2010 C Magazine New Critics Prize for art criticism. Recently, she finished writing catalog essays for the Artishok Biennial held in Tartu, Estonia and Hang in There (Chicago, IL). She has given public lectures, including participation on an art criticism panel for Nuit Blanche 2010 in Toronto. She blogs at Here is a Fantasy, an online collection of things resembling contemporary art.
Her Master of Arts thesis is “Early Video Art: From Anti-TV to Anti-Eye,” written in completion of her Master of Arts degree in Art History.
About Culture Hall Feature Issues
Every two weeks, Culture Hall invites a curator to present four Culturehall artists who surround an idea. On occasion they present an issue themselves.
Culturehall is a curated online resource for contemporary art where selected artists can share their work with curators, gallerists, collectors and other artists. We provide free artist portfolios with an easy to use set of web-based tools to make presenting art online simple and efficient. Our community of artists consists primarily of MFA graduates, arts professionals and teaching artists. Membership is available by invitation or application.
Corinna Kirsch writing contributions for Berlin Art Link:
Berlin Art Link Studio Visits:
Berlin Art Link Studio Visit with LIsa Jugert