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Through November 9, 2002 at CirrusGallery, Downtown

by Craig Stephens

“Wilderness" (detail), 2002, from installation, acrylic on tara cloth, dimensions variable.

Whether simply placed in a gallery environment, photographed, drawn or recorded on video or audio tape, automobiles and car accidents have long been used as visual metaphors by artists, their inclusion lying somewhere between performance and disturbance, installation and litter. This visual archetype has been repeatedly harnessed to construct a narrative about everything and anything from violence and destruction to consumerist icons, industrialization, and/or the environment in which we live. Religion too has even figured in there somewhere

It’s hard to reinvent the wheel, though sometimes it works. Technically dextrous, incisive and even witty, Los Angeles artist Justin Moore seems to have succeeded. Entitled Tectonic, the exhibition includes painting, sculpture, drawing and prints, each beginning the exploration of the aforementioned narratives. As Moore’s first solo show it is incisive and thoughtful, outstretching the expectations of a premier solo show by a young graduate of the College of Creative Studies at UC Santa Barbara.

Thematically, Moore confines his attempt to gauge human psychological and emotional response to such automotive carnage, in certain instances of extreme violence. The physical event separates itself from the consciousness of the participant, and two distinct narratives are launched. One is subject to the domination of physical law, while the other, created by such extraordinary effects as "shock" or "divine intervention," leads to what might be called a "psychological wilderness."

“Wilderness,” 2002, installation, acrylic on tara cloth/
slot-car track/mirrored plexiglas, dimensions variable.

“T-Bone," 2002, digital Web edition.

Moore attempts to explore this wilderness via imagery boxed in a gaggle of video monitors that lay grouped on the gallery floor, titled Tectonic 2002. This video/DVD installation bridges the gulf between photography and painting, each monitor conjuring stillness and emotion. The footage, a delayed frame video of a car crash, is more tangible as a vibrant collage than as a distinct and real event. Lightening the load in the face of such extreme bombast is an elaborate slot car track, mounted on a vast, mirror-coated platform complete with cars and gun controls. The huge, intricate track, featuring extreme geometric angles, served as both an elaborate sculpture and perfect interactive entertainment for the gallery crowd.