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bitforms Summer 2017: A Preview of Next Season

A preview of next season - June 22 - July 30th bitforms gallery is a must experience art venue! Founded in 2001, the gallery represents artists who are engaged in experimental media and technology. bitforms' “Summer 2017: A preview of next season” is a sampler show of the artists to exhibit soon at the gallery. Art stars such as Gary Hill, media pioneers Daniel Canogar, Beryl Korot and emerging artists Sara Ludy, Jonathan Monaghan and Addie Wagenknecht are skilfully combined in the intimate space of the gallery.

Addie Wagenknecht’s Untitled (Vase No. 3), 2016 is the opening work of the exhibition and strikes a political and activist undertone which stayed with me throughout the rest of the show. 3D printed Liberator guns multiply and pile on each other to make a form that is no longer functional for violence or harm. The Liberator was a 3D-printable handgun, and the first of its kind to be made widely distributed for free online (though the U.S. Department of State has since made their distribution illegal). What was a symbol of potential unregulated violence becomes a piece of domesticity - a vase, and likens to the Vietnam era anti-war images of protesters placing flowers in gun barrels? I find that Wagenknecht, like many of the artists in the exhibition, seems to be enthralled and curious by new technologies, while at the same time questioning their impact on modern society.

Jonathan Monaghan’s two sculptures on display, 24K Magic in the Air, 2017 and Chase What Matters, 2017 once again challenge that idea that modern technologies help and serve us. His works draw inspiration from science fiction and Baroque architecture, of which I felt the pulsation of 3D printing within the pieces here. In 24K Magic in the Air, 2017, Monaghan perverts the ornate veneer of the St. Regis Hotel in New York into a sculptural wall relief. But the real perversion comes from his source materials. While the St. Regis Hotel came into being through extremely wealthy men and industries, Monaghan updates its exterior with 3D printed acrylate and gold plated brass. Chase What Matters, 2017 is a terrifying piece, part of the ongoing series Police State Condo where the works appear like advertisements for luxury apartments but are much more upon closer inspection. What looks like a beautiful penthouse view is obstructed by security cameras, TSA checkpoints, and ATM machines, questioning if luxury is worth it when privacy and autonomy must be sacrificed?

Sculpture meets video art in Gary Hill’s Klein Bottle with the Image of Its Own Making (after Robert Morris), 2014. Interior and exterior become unclear in the Klein bottle, a mathematical form made of one continuous surface. Hill projects a video of its own making on the “interior” of the surface, referencing Robert Morris’s Box with the Sound of Its Own Making. Video, light and computer technology come together in Sara Ludy’s Deep Pond which uses generated animations to make swimming lifeforms. My mind jumped from lava lamps of the 1990s to the microscopic life forms seen only rarely but constantly present. While Ludy’s work is a 10-minute loop, Daniel Canogar’s Echo, is constantly changing. Canogar uses his invented technique of flexible LED tiles, that play an abstract animation which is intermittently disrupted with new light patterns triggered by the vibrations of the Earth.

Art and technology converge into a commentary on what technology brings to human civilization, while also questioning its scope and benefits in bitforms Summer 2017 show. I can only wonder what next year’s new ‘breed’ of technology will bring to these and other media based artists.

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