After knocking out a new screenprinted edition (see it at the Headlands Open House July 12, or at The Kiss of A Lifetime in Newcastle and London) and attending the artists’ talks at the Headlands yesterday, I decided to knock off and go enjoy some galleries this Friday afternoon.
Steven Barich‘s show at Rowan Morrison is comprised of a series of mostly-compact graphite drawings of logic stones, in which the stones themselves are rendered in a pixelated greyscale grid. The images in reproduction look flat, but the drawings have a lot of “hand” in them; the teeny scale of the pixels seems to point your attention to the tooth of the paper, the grains of graphite. “Technology v. Nature” seems to be an overworked thread in contemporary art, but Barichs’ drawings depict as well as enact this dichotomy. The labor of representing a machinelike perfection in pixels is contrasted with the labor in representing the baroque carvings of the stands. It’s also interesting to notice that so much pixel-based hand-made contemporary art uses full color spectra, whereas Barich’s work is limited to shades of grey. I imagine it’s not an easy task to create random patterns with only value contrast to work with. While the premise behind The Logic Stone may seem straightforward, these deliberate reductions reveal a tight conceptual and technical approach.
Kala’s new gallery space on San Pablo Avenue is spacious, with high ceilings, a nice balance between open space and smaller nooks, and great walls and good lighting. The current exhibition, re:con-figure, features the work of several past Fellows or AIRs, who exemplify a certain Bay Area contemporary art diversity. On view were video-papercut-installations, mixed media collages, photo-sculptures, performance-installations and kinetics-installations (and noticibly, not a whole lot of traditional printmaking per se. re:con-figure seems to announce that Kala is a contemporary art presenter, in case you still thought of it as a intaglio-oriented printmaking atelier.)
I really enjoyed Scott Kildall‘s and Victoria Scott‘s No Matter project of humorous cut-and-fold assemblies. The objects appear to be inspired by Kildall’s ongoing interest in virtual reality; the planar, crappily-colored objects bring Second Life hokeyness into “first life” materialization. This project is similar to eTeam‘s (Hajoe Moderegger & Franziska Lamprecht) Second Life Dumpster , but No Matter embodies the cheap crappiness I found lacking.
The renderings in 3D animation can be woefully inadequate, so to create 2D prints that cut and fold into truly 3D counterparts is a brilliant rhetorical gesture. Even when the wood-grained Contact paper-wrapped shelves and chalky inkjet paper announce their media a bit too obviously, it works with the spirit of the piece, which seems to saying that Second Life is Camp, and the artists intend to honor to the spirit of the Camp with its own oblivious pretensions. The ridiculousness is appreciated, since by acknowledging the artifice of virtual reality, the artists might be acknowledging the artifice of artmaking itself.
Pae White’s show at New Langton Arts may be one of the most surprising art experiences I’ve had in the Bay Area in the past two months. It’s killer. So killer, I’m shocked and dismayed how little press I’ve seen on it, and how no one has told me that I have to see the show. So I’m telling you now: You have to see the show. Especially if you like how the self is brought to the fore in installation art, have any interest in digital animation, or, like me, you find disorienting perceptual experiences and your resulting hyper-awareness to epitomize the best that contemporary art can offer. It’s Earth Art, yes, but unconventionally so, and it seems to be fully Romantic in nature, in the sense of presenting a techno-digital-Sublime that’s otherworldy and quite possibly terrifying.
I’ll add that the show ends July 18th, and say no more.