Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Chris Doyle: Waste Generation

"Bird Void", a still from Chris Doyle's video installation Waste_Generation

Andrew Edlin gallery, "the middle one" of the 10th Ave trio of Lori Bookstein, Andrew Edlin and Alexander & Bonin is currently showing a captivating multimedia work by Chris Doyle, an artist famous for working with projected images in public spaces.

Here's my favorite work in the exhibition -  a duotrans movie still called "Bird Void" from his trippy floor-to-ceiling video projection screening in an adjacent room. Illuminated as a lightbox, it features a kaleidoscopic digital backdrop overlayed with smokestacks reminiscent of the artist's hometown Brooklyn, surrealistically etched by the negative silhouettes of menacing crows.

Though the artist demurs that this is a save-the-planet message or political message, that's the overarching sentiment. It's best summed up by the Edlin team on the gallery's site:

... In it a dump site for outmoded tools of production, such as computers and oil drills, dissolves into a paper mill whose smokestack generates paper money. The currency condenses into the pulsating plant life of a jungle, where falling trees shape themselves into a bleak factory silhouette that belches pastel clouds. Black crows fly out of them, only to divide and metastasize into the replicating patterns of Victorian wallpaper and oriental rugs. The rugs frame a suburban development of homes with Islamic domes, as seen in on TV in a flash that brings the cycle back to its beginning. 

"Smokescreen", featuring smokestacks, nature, a quaker quilt pattern against a background of money.

The video reminds me of the projections at some great warehouse raves I've been to - though I doubt those held a message than lasted more than a few beats - and the throbbing, soaring soundtrack by acclaimed cinematographer Joe Arcidiacono is haunting and addictive. I'd like to buy the video on DVD but currently you'd have to pay $22K and then you'd want to throw one big barbie and devote the entire windowless side of your house to it.

Several stills from the movie have been made into small, bill-sized prints you can buy for $100 a piece, as an alternative to the $5K duotrans (1 of a limited edition of 5). The bills are meant to resemble currency belched from those smokestacks - or somewhat expensive postcards. Still, it's commendable that the average Joe can take home a piece of the artist's work for the price of a mass produced, packable rainjacket (the least expensive item at Eastern Mountain Sports in Soho where I work).
A still from the video projection: discarded refrigerators and washing machines and smokestacks belching money imprinted with smokestacks ...
The affable and very knowledgeable gallery director Laura Higgins came out from behind her workstation - where she was no doubt negotiating with a big gallery to take on the $22k video - to explain that Doyle is a Master of Architecture for Harvard. This could explain why he's apparently particular about concealing the white electricity cable powering the lightboxes with a strip of white tape. Personally, I'd rather see a gnarled cable with three deadly wires poking out of frayed holes at intermittent intervals to complement "Bird Void" and mentioned one of my favorite pieces of all time, Michele de Lucchi's Oceanic Lamp, probably the art world's biggest celebration of a cord and switch since Claes Oldenberg's Giant Plug.

Speaking of hardware,  another work in the show called "Evergrow" is made from a little lightbox "book": two hinged panels that ooze and crawl with more kaleidoscopic imagery excepted from the video. While not wanting to fixate on the frame rather than the painting, I wondered about Doyle's architectural thinking behind this, because unfortunately it reminded me of the window strips that obstruct the view from my apartment downunder:
How do architects deal with this? Like Oldenburg and de Lucchi, get mighty creative with them thar windows, as described to the n+1th degree  by Architakes in this exhaustive 4-part discussion, "Windowflage".

But I digress (and is that the most useful phrase invented for the ADHD-gifted ever?). I'm scoping out a space on my wall for "Bird Void" - I'm looking for a nite light with substance!

Andrew Edlin Gallery
134 Tenth Avenue
New York, NY 10011
Telephone: 212-206-9723
Fax: 212-206-9639
ae@edlingallery.com

Gallery Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 11-6

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