Artworks Woven on the Loom and in Looping Video
Patrick Neal, July 6, 2017
The first thing one sees when entering the exhibition Deep Time, currently on view at Radiator Arts, are ravishing, incandescent patterns that swirl and pulsate with super-saturated colors and glow like diodes or reticulate into kaleidoscopes. But on closer inspection, these colorful patterns emerge as the physical and virtual manifestations of textile design.
Throughout the gallery are weavings and printed fabrics made by hand or computer. In some cases, the matrix of woven fiber is lodged conceptually in digital videos. The artworks in Deep Time consider the logic of a grid system that’s inherent to fiber arts and technology as a unifying scheme from which to generate images. It draws connections between the dot patterns of lights on a phosphorescent screen, the circuitry of a motherboard, and the vertical and horizontal cross-stitch of a loom. This is done with an appreciation of ancient craft and cultures and new media in concert with one another. Even when employing a TC2 Jacquard Loom or 3D printer, the featured artists always have their hands in simpler, analog, biophilic, and tactile practices as well.
Most of the artists are represented by two pieces: one that is static, like a weaving or painting; and a moving image piece, like a digital video or wall projection. The gallery ripples with visual and aural patterns that are often like deviant fractals. The ambient sounds of mechanical blips, hums, and whirs mingle with patterns of foliage, footprints in the snow, typography, or spiderwebs, as machines enhance and illuminate organic forms in supernatural ways. Magic happens when IRL perceptual material is fused with cyber-technology, creating hybrid forms.
LoVid (the collaborative duo of Tali Hinkis and Kyle Lapidus), whose single-channel video “Digital Dirt Spiderwebs” rattles and stammers like an old-school video game, is intermittently interrupted by bucolic scenes of nature’s passing seasons. Footage of plastic threads and cut, colored paper interact with leaves, grass, and twigs in an elemental and electronic collage. Michael Andrews similarly splices and dices between media, depicting his own loopy portrait in separate tapestry and video works that swim and bob in liquid distortion like a cosmic ultrasound.
Mitch Patrick’s 3D-printed PETG work, “NEE NED ZB 6TNN DEIBEDH SIEFI EBEEE SSIEI ESEE (barchanoid scripts),” a blue and mauve shimmer of thermoplastics, resembles a tapestry knitted in alien gibberish residing in an atmosphere of hazy dunes and low-lying clouds. Patrick, like Robin Kang, is interested in how perception is a mediated experience. What we understand, and respond to, can be at close-range, (in front of our eyes or in our hands) but also delivered remotely, (through systems of information and machines). Kang seamlessly tethers images of circuitry within the heft of ornate garments, weaving with cotton and silk, but also metallic, plastic, and holographic yarns in deep, radiating colors. She creates visual parallels that consider the look and function of punch cards, magnetized beads, looms and fibers with depictions of silver and gold electronics that glow and morph into furry eyespots like those found on the wings of a moth.
Jodie Mack and Leeza Meksin ponder the signifying potential of abstraction, particularly around displays of patterns and materials, and their figurative associations. Mack arranges images of sensual floral swatches into flickering slideshows then uploads them as screen savers to desktop monitors that are, in turn, covered in bits of patterned, cut paper. Frilly at first, our relationship to what seems familiar and homespun soon becomes scrambled, as do our perceptions of place, time, and touch. Minimal and compact, Meksin’s fabric and oil painting “Tuning for Revolt,” with its orange grill and metallic knobs, resembles a Flight Controller Processor, the sort that assists in powering quadcopter drones. More flamboyant is her wall construction “48” Flat Screen” (2012), a work bulging with glistening, silver spandex bonded and trussed with an assortment of elastic cords, it looks like the lovechild of Nancy Davidson and Lee Bontecou.
All of the artists in Deep Time have multi-disciplinary practices that are sensitive to environmental and social concerns, and the works on the walls are just a sample of the show’s scope. During its run, the exhibition is augmented with evenings of live music and performance that incorporate mechanical audio-video components into the act. Considering our culture of multimedia image saturation, the exhibition could also serve to complement the eclectic and experimental spirit found in current retrospectives of Postmodern fashion designers Rei Kawakubo and Anna Sui. If not exactly ready-to-wear, the works in Deep Time will fortify the eyes and mind.
Deep Time continues at Radiator Arts (10-61 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City, Queens) through July 14.