Saturday, July 29, 2006

"Peripheral View" Review














Jamie Pawlus, Don’t Be Afraid of the Space Rays/Don’t Be Afraid of the Space Race


I apologize for the unpunctuality of this review, but it is certainly still worth noting.

Peripheral View, the aptly titled exhibition at iMOCA featuring sculpture/installation by Jamie Pawlus and Ryan Wolfe, confronts us with objects and processes which are typically seen without being observed.

Pawlus’ work, cleverly placed throughout the exhibition space, lends the viewer to reexamine the idioms of information and signs in public, if not urban, settings. There is something of a tradition of art that “disappears”, Damien Hirst and recent iMOCA alumnus Conrad Bakker among the proponents. This distinction is not entirely appropriate in regards to the work of Ms. Pawlus, however the affinity seems undeniable. The dynamic presented by her half of this show is a little more complex. In what I would consider the most successful of the works, the initial viewing of the object is an inattentive one. The viewer casually recognizes a ‘sign’ (in some cases literally) not as the message or information it signifies, but as the presence of an all too familiar urban medium for example Merge/Escape takes the places of the more familiar Entrance/Exit, The Other Side Sign, and Don’t Be Afraid of the Space Rays/Don’t Be Afraid of the Space Race are detourned street signs which are encountered daily, at least in form. At first we don’t even read it. In this way they signify signage and little else. We think, “A sign”, and not whatever is printed on it. (The best piece in the show, The Other Side Sign, has nothing printed at all, only two “backsides”, placed quite intelligently, in the corner as to force the viewer to seek the vacant information). Eventually you read it, acknowledge it for what it is, and the whole experience shifts, making the viewer actively aware of its presence. The difference between this experience and our more banal encounters with signs is the effect of an unnerving, and humorous to be sure, awareness of the presence of such signs. We become aware of the power of signs, in a general sense, to inform but also to direct, the latter having a more alienating overtone. This, to acknowledge the conceptual-landscape slant of the show, makes the works something of a psychogeographical critique.

Ryan Wolfe’s computerized grass, mimicking the effects of wind; I am admittedly less excited about, but it appeared to be quite a crowd pleaser at the opening. That isn’t to dismiss its ironic beauty, of which it certainly has, and is. The installations, Sketch of a Field of Grass (Night) and Field (Biaxial), both consisting of modules of motorized blades of grass, mechanize the natural process quite admirably. The effect is at first whimsical, but with time becomes unsettling (and more interesting) as it starts to feel more like a quantized loop than a breezy stroll in the park.

The show has a dynamic which I value very much in art which is that of a change in perception and object identity over real time. That is, I am confronted with the object, form an assumption about it, and have that assumption discredited.


1 Responses to “"Peripheral View" Review”

Anonymous said...
June 8, 2011 at 7:44 AM

Typical Liberal Nonsense that the bedwetters expect the rest of us to pay for.


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