Last week I had the pleasure of visiting Donna Cleary’s, home and invitation-only gallery space in Clinton Hill. The 184 Project Space housed Carla Gannis’ latest show. Using this space, an extension of both Donna’s personal home and both the gallery owner and the curator’s community, Carla was given free rein to explore a subject that was of particular interest to her. At the same time, they have given local up-and-coming artists the opportunity to exhibit their work and a platform to explore their ideas on “perverse instantiations.” The show featured artists Jacky Connolly, Katie Hadgis, Shayna Hawkins, Sung-Ah Jun, Rafia Santana, Jakob Steensen. It was truly like no other group show I’ve ever seen before!
The first piece on view when you enter the space says it all. Sung-Ah Jun’s work of a screaming, bird-flipping model is both the subject and the technology itself. The artist has distorted a photograph with static waves, amplifing the gesture and its emotion. Jun embraces both the process and the visual reality of this piece. Using the term coined by philosopher Nick Bostrom, Jun and the other artists that took part in this show shared their unique perspective on the roles in which human programmers could fail to anticipate the ways in which their robotic, or digital, counterparts may “miss the mark” on understanding human, goal-oriented, societal expectations. Each artist not only responded to the subject, but to the unique space in which they were exhibiting.
Through the use of video, Jacky Connolly drew upon two elements of an all too familiar alternative reality. Using the visual elements of the game The Sims, she drew upon awkward teenage moments from earlier in her life. This piece displays on a flat screen almost parallel with the couch.
Whereas Katie Hadgis interpreted this notion with motion-sensor lights installed in Donna’s bathroom. Can you imagine taking a shower with these ever morphing multicolor lights?
Jakob Steensen made the most amazing use of the home gallery concept, and eagerly took the bedroom space to display his work. By tweaking the way he normally displays his work, he was able to use every inch of space available. Although his work is generally mostly video displayed on two parallel screens, for this show he stepped outside of his comfort zone and set up a projection of his work on the wall behind the bed and even printed related imagery on the pillows and the bedspread. Through this installation, he quite literally brought “space to life.” Both the space he was filming and the space in which he was displaying his art were quite tangible.
Shayna Hawkins used the medium of a “wall decal,” carefully placed by the artist piece by piece, to explore a world in which we have created interactive robotic versions of ourselves that will no longer follow our command. This seemingly “flat” installation becomes interactive and 3-dimensional in a manner in which I have never experienced. The artist used a QR code to bring the art, and the topic of discussion, right to your fingertips.
Lastly, but surely not least, Rafia Santana’s “GALactic” features an 8-bit style graphic of herself on a spinning button tempting the viewer to “Hit Me, Baby.” Updating the video game look with a touch screen appeal, Santana reflects the too-easy exploitation of womanhood through today’s technological decadences. She explores this theme in her other works as well.
Quite literally, “perverse” means to show a deliberate and obstinate desire, to behave in a way that is unreasonable or unacceptable. “Instantiations” refers to “the idea that in order for a property to exist, it must be had by some object or substance; the instance of being a specific object rather than the idea of it” (Wikipedia). Through Carla’s lens, each one of these artists used this quite unique space to bring this concept of Perverse Instantiations to life. More often than not, people think of Art and Design (referring mostly to Interiors) as two separate notions. But often when viewing art, besides the concept behind it what is so important is its tangibility and the context in which you view it. This show really explored this notion not only of the blurred lines between what’s reality and a digitized version of reality, but also the blurred lines between art and design. Here they truly made the design of Donna’s home gallery part of their art. If you email the address listed on their page, you may be lucky enough to experience this rather avant-garde show yourself!