Return to Articles


June, 2001

Ken Goldberg and team, "Ouija 2000,"
gameboard/robotic arm/webcam, 2000.

Paul Semon, "Telematic Vision," sofa/monitors/
cameras stationed at remote locations, 1993.

The internet-based art installation exhibition Telematic Connections: The Virtual Embrace presents work which is pushing the envelope of how we can imagine artmaking in a cyberspace connected world. Drawn together by the Walker Art Center’s curator of new media initiatives Steve Dietz, selections reflect both telematic connectedness (most works on exhibition draw continuously from the Net for activation) and global awareness (mostly for sensitivity to ecology and cyber-activist issues). The works on exhibit are at times visually stunning so as to render advanced knowledge of the technology unnecessary, but much is also less visual than technical. Of particular note are collaborative ef-forts which spawned the interactive installations. Mori, a collaboration by Ken Goldberg, Randall Packer, Gregory Kuhn, and Wojciech Matusik, is an Internet-based earthwork that both measures and reflects the earth’s seismic movement. Community of People with No Time, by Victoria Vesna, David Beaudry and Gerald de Jong, links informational movements with sounds and images (Art Center, Pasadena).

Jeff Colson’s drawings and sculptures inform each other, and seeing them presented together makes each element resonate in its own way. Colson is a master at juxtaposing found and invented elements. For this exhibition he transformed images that represent announcements, a horn blowing, and a kiosk covered in posters into an abstract entity that still retains its original function. The works are still announcements--yet what they proclaim is the alluring message of the art (Griffin Contemporary Art, Venice).

Jeff Colson, “Report,” fiberglass/
bondo/black primer, 48 x 32 x 11”, 2000.

Sue de Beer, “Study for ‘The Dunwich
Horror’,” ink on archival inkjet, 21 x 36”, 2001.
Sue de Beer photographs impossible things. As a result of her interest in the artifice of photography, she constructs sets to be photographed. In photographing both the people and the architecture she sets up for the camera, she positions them as if they were outtakes from a horror movie. A girl has been cut in half. We see the bloody interior of her torso, yet her expression is one of ennui. A boy is covered in blood. What happened, or is about to happen, is less important to de Beer than the way the body occupies space. By using the computer and constructing sets to contain the action, de Beer’s enigmatic images make any fiction appear as reality (Sandroni Rey, Venice).

Dinh Q Le cuts apart large photographs and weaves them back together into complex photo collages. This new work is entitled Persistence of Memory. In it he juxtaposes black and white photographs taken by photojournalists with colored photographs taken from Hollywood war movies. The results are a stunning fusion of fiction and reality. Also on view are a series of white on white works in which the images of victims of the Khmer Rouge have been embroidered on top of one another. This creates a subtle blending of facial parts. In the back gallery is a neon sculpture in which bright blue halos float at different heights within the gallery space. As always Din Q Le presents poignant work in a variety of mediums in this exceptional show (Shoshana Wayne Gallery, Santa Monica).

Dinh Q Le, "Untitled (Persistence of Memory #11),"
2000-1, C-print and linen tape, 46 1/2 x 66 1/8 x 3".

Sandy Sussman, "Untitled" (1 or 12 panels),
a/c, 12 x 10 x 1 1/2"

The point of Telling Stories is to generate open ended images that provoke viewers' involvement in creating narrative closure. The artists here provide oddly resonant visuals and we bring our own stories as connective tissue to make sense of things. This concept feels a little forced, laced on to work that at its best stands up without a curatorial excuse. Martin Gantman (who also curated) offers photo appropriations that subtlely manipulate art history mainstays like Delacroix, and Jody Zellen's (also on view in this show) Invisible City C-prints come to mind. On the other hand, no amount of viewer assisted gestalt quite integrates works by Sandy Sussman. On the whole an uneven but worthwhile stretch (Eye Five Gallery, Downtown).

It is a shame that the three Saar women seem to single handedly constitute so much of L.A.'s African American contemporary art (it is hard to imagine that the various art schools are not producing more good black artists--perhaps we simply do not get to see them). What is not sad however, is that Alison Saar continues to make compelling, challenging sculpture that is lead here by larger than life-size iconic figures topped with found objects. They make us think about things like race and gender, and reflect her understanding of tribal African, folk, and classic European sources. Yet she manages not to compromise the mysteries of beauty and poetry in a hand that is distinctly her own. These new works are familiar in the best sense (Jan Baum Gallery, West Hollywood).

Alison Saar, "Bat Boys," baseball
bats and pitch, 34 x 12 x 12", 2001.
Photo: Douglas Parker Studio.

Artist Manuel Ocampo's own recent verbally driven paintings rather pale next to the three Spanish artists he's curated into Les Chiens Andalous (title borrowed from the classic 1930s-era Surrealist film collaboration of Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali). Chema Cobo's scatalogically charged efforts are forgettable; Patricio Cabrera juxtaposes a stylized observer against dry landscapes and an overlaid graphic linear pattern that lends the work a charge. Curro Gonzalez, however, carries the whole show on his back just as he depicts in one of his paintings here, The Tightrope, presenting a brand of neo-surrealism that is fresh, historically astute, stunningly executed and easily world class (Track 16 Gallery, Santa Monica).

Curro Gonzalez, “La caida (The Fall),” a/c, 2000.

August Sander was one of the most prolific photographers working in the early Twentieth Century. His lifelong project was to create a portrait of the German society in the 1920s and 1930s. This exhibition presents a selection of over 125 from among these innumerable images. Sander photographed all levels of society from the very rich to the very poor, and called this body of work Citizens of the Twentieth Century. His portraits of individuals and groups are objective and direct. He aimed to present people in their true light. Also on view are photographs Sander took of his home and studio. These images present details of how he lived and work, and are as revealing as his portraits about how Sander viewed society (J. Paul Getty Museum, West Los Angeles).

August Sander, "Cinema Staff,"
gelatin silver print, 1929.

Rudolph Schindler, "Kings Road
House, West Hollywood, CA",
1921-22. Photo: Gran Mudford.
At a time when the right to bulldoze California is increasingly demanded by individuals determined to erect the capacious architectural equivalents of SUVs, one antidote is this comprehensive exhibition of drawings, photographs, scale models and furniture designed by a man who understood how to tread lightly on the land. Rudolph Schindler’s humanistic response to local cultural and climatic conditions was coupled with an impeccable sense of engineering and design. Schindler modulated sun and light through a series of screens, much as Japanese masters at Katsura had done centuries before, using plane surfaces to bound volumes. Born in Vienna in 1887, he studied under Otto Wagner [the central figure in the recent Shaping the Great City show at the Getty, noted in last month’s issue-- Ed.], then moved to the United States in 1918 to work with Frank Lloyd Wright before settling in California during the 1920s. Schindler filtered the utopianism of the modern European avant-garde through West Coast concerns to produce an open style with a respect for man’s interaction with nature that deserves this fresh look (The Museum of Contemporary Art [MOCA], Downtown).

A pitch-black gallery is lit only by four huge screens; and controlled by four center panels from which visitors can select photographs of a particular Orange County area. The photographs are included in Curious Orange: Points of View on the Landscape of Orange County, and from the collection of a unique, nonprofit organization---the Center for Land Use Interpretation, whose purpose is to document land usage in all its endless variations. Over a short period of time, having experienced dramatic changes, from virgin land to large tracks of development, Orange County is a natural to document. The results are thought provoking, as stills of Orange County flash across the screen--power plants, shopping malls, landfill, and beach property. On the whole, the CLUI's clips convey a favorable impression of the County (UC Irvine, Beall Art Center, Orange County).

Center for Land Use Interpretation, Untitled
photograph of Newport Fashion Island
from "Curious Orange: Point of View".