Friday 6 August 2010 / Extra Extra / 2222 Sepviva St. / Philadelphia PA
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Review by Annette Monnier, first posted Friday 03 September 2010
Extra extra is a wonderful new media-focused gallery that curates from submissions–this my second review of an exhibition there and it’s the only gallery that I’ve reviewed twice in the twelve months since I began this project. (The first review was of was Brad Troemel’s “Pre-Career Retrospective” in March.) I’m always impressed when I go there. Extra extra keeps gallery hours on the weekends–so you should go visit.
Solving the world’s problems with Photoshop
I’ll start with the horribly romantic and slightly cheesy gesture that made me decide that this was the exhibition that had to be reviewed. This gesture comes in the form of nine medium-large blurry print-outs on photo-paper adhered to the wall with straight pins so that some of the edges of the paper are wonky—curling up a bit. Previous to receiving any knowledge about the blurry blue, white, black, and orange-ish images that called to mind weather patterns or explosions and would have looked right at home in the “Abstract Abstract” exhibition I saw at Foxy Production in September of 2009—I was ready to dismiss them as something I liked and was drawn to aesthetically and didn’t put much meaning into them besides that.
I was rescued from my dismissal by the voice of Daniel Wallace, one of the brains behind extra extra who called “hello” from the top floor of the gallery (which is a little bookshop) and went on to explain what I was looking at. The nine blurry images were in fact photos of the BP oil crisis, taken from the internet by the artist Constant Dullart into the fourth incarnation of Adobe Creative Suite. Each image was then subjected to the “healing brush” tool in the Photoshop application, and effectively “healed”.
This could count as very dark humor but I’m going to continue calling it a romantic gesture. When I listen to news of the BP oil spil I go numb, I get frustrated, and I feel like the only thing I can physically do is ignore the problem. I know that ignoring things will not make them go away but I also know that walking around angry and hurt with no outlet for it can accomplish nothing. The BP oil crisis makes me feel completely helpless. Up on the wall at extra extra is the embodiment of that feeling, the physical manifestation of all of us thinking “I wish there was something I could do to help.”
I find the print-outs remarkably sympathetic to the human condition in our era. We can see news events unfolding from afar, we can receive up-to-the-minute news coverage –sometimes it seems as though technology invests us with almost god-like powers—but we cannot actually do anything other then watch most situations unfold. Even the mighty powers of CS4 are really no match for many of the world’s problems. It’s terribly frustrating.
If Mr. Wallace had not spoken up I might have continued to see nice abstractions and I might have remained similarly blind about other pieces in the gallery. Research on extra extra’s blog would have revealed the name of the nine print-outs to be “Healing” which I could also have gathered from an 8.5 x 11 piece of paper attached to the gallery wall near the entrance– if I had bothered. “Healing” tells me next to nothing if I don’t already know what I am looking at. I mention this because the artists requested that little information about the work on view be displayed.
The artists Artie Vierkant and Constant Dullaart also asked several persons to review the exhibition based solely on the press-release before the show was even installed, those writings can be found here. Some of those writings, especially the one written by Josephine Bosma, are blatantly full of miss-information or describe pieces that are not in the exhibition at all.
I am not sure where I stand on all of this, even more so because the article by Josephine Bosma is extremely funny now that I am in on the joke. However, it makes it very difficult to be a viewer of art when the artists are purposely leaving out vital pieces of information or blatantly miss-leading you. As an art educator, I like truthful information. I think you should allow the viewer to connect with what you are doing rather then keeping them at a distance. By not granting people access to the information they need to understand a work you are handicapping them against enjoyment of the art experience you have created.
Link for your on-line viewing pleasure
“Artie Vierkant and Constant Dullaart” is, as the name suggests– a two-man effort. The artists have never met in person and have done all their collaborative planning via the worldwide web. The work in the show melds aesthetically seamlessly and without the give-away of the title, “Artie Vierkant and Constant Dullaart” could be mistaken for a solo effort. Conceptually, the work can be divided into work about the time it takes to to load information (Artie Vierkant) and work that is not about the time it takes to load information (Constant Dullaart).
As we have already discussed the work by Constant Dullaart we will proceed to work about loading information. Loading and waiting for things to load has become a standard part of our lives and both pieces at extra extra, deal with this development in highly poetic ways.
“Full Throttle” is an installation of six action movies on six Dell screens. Each action movie has been recorded while loading very slowly—as the artist purposely slowed down his internet connection. We see six movies that want very much to explode and move quickly and violently—only they have been made to wait. Action has been suspended and must hold patiently until it has the erudition to continue.
“Proposed Video” is a video that is rendering while you are in the gallery. It will not be completed until the end of the exhibition and so many of us will never see it. You could cut the palpable tension of the potential energy of this piece with a knife. It assumes that the finished video will never be able to live up to our expectations of what it could be and that this potential is the most interesting part.
A great show at a wonderful gallery. Thanks.
This review was first posted at One Review a Month.