Oct 202017

                                                            Fanon (Even the Dead Are Not Safe) 2017 (image via Metro Pictures)

Artificial intelligence is a growing field with numerous implications for the future, some more sinister than others. Trevor Paglen’s current exhibition at Metro Pictures gives some insight into this evolving technology.

From the Metro Pictures press release-

Trevor Paglen’s A Study of Invisible Images is the first exhibition of works to emerge from his ongoing research into computer vision, artificial intelligence (AI) and the changing status of images. This body of work has formed over years of collaboration with software developers and computer scientists and as an artist-in-residence at Stanford University. The resulting prints and moving images reveal a proliferating and otherwise imperceptible category of “invisible images” characteristic of computer vision.

Paglen’s exhibition focuses on three distinct kinds of invisible images: training libraries, machine-readable landscapes, and images made by computers for themselves. For Machine-Readable Hito, for example, Paglen took hundreds of images of artist Hito Steyerl and subjected them to various facial recognition algorithms. This portrait of Steyerl presents the images alongside metadata indicating the age, gender, emotional state and other signifiers that the algorithms have interpreted from the images. In another portrait in the show, Paglen trained facial recognition software to read the face of philosopher Frantz Fanon. A ghostly image of Fanon shows the facial signature–the unique qualities of a face as determined by biometric recognition software–used by computer vision to identify an individual.

To make the prints in Adversarially Evolved Hallucinations, Paglen trained an AI to recognize images associated with taxonomies such as omens and portents, monsters, and dreams. A second AI worked in tandem with the first to generate the eerie, beautiful images that speak to the exuberant promises and dark undercurrents characterizing our increasingly automated world.

The video installation Behold These Glorious Times! brings together hundreds of thousands of training images routinely used for standardized computer vision experiments and pairs them with visual representations of an AI learning to recognize the objects, faces, expressions and actions. A loose narrative begins to emerge about the collapsing distinctions between humans, machines and nature. Electronic musician Holly Herndon composed a soundtrack using libraries of voices created to teach AI networks how to recognize speech and other acoustic phenomena.

The image below is one of the prints from Adversarially Evolved Hallucinations. A series of these images, presented all in one room in the back gallery, are particularly unsettling as they have elements that seem familiar while remaining distorted. As artworks, they are captivating in their strangeness as well as their beauty.

                                                                Porn (Corpus: The Humans) 2017 (image via Metro Pictures)


The exhibition also has a printout with more detail about the creation of the work that goes beyond the press release, located at the front of the gallery. Make sure to leave time to take in this fascinating show. A Study of Invisible Images closes 10/21/17.

May 202017

Julius von Bismarck’s Good Weather at Marlborough Contemporary is an interesting meditation on man’s desire to control nature. The first half of the exhibition focuses on Bismarck’s attempts to capture a lightning bolt with the rockets pictured above. In a side room there is a mesmerizing video of a storm rolling into a jungle and the lightning that he used for his experiment. The second half of the gallery focuses on pressed plant species and chickens.

In the press release his process for achieving these flattened works is described in detail-

Like a Colonial scientist, von Bismarck has collected plant species from jungle. Rather than pressing tiny flowers in a notebook, the artist has pressed large plants and entire palm trees into flattened specimens. Heated to a precise 250 degrees in an enormous custom-built oven and a 50-ton hydraulic press, the plants are completely dehydrated without losing their verdant coloration, and squashed astonishingly flat. They are then backed with thin stainless steel to maintain their shape for presentation.

This exhibition closes 5/20/17.

                                                                                       No title (room, panic doors), 2013-14

At Gagosian gallery is Robert Therrien’s first show in New York in ten years. The artist, well known for his sculptures of massive tables, chairs and plates, is now creating rooms and new objects- which include drops, a bow, and a flagpole. The rooms are the works that stand out most, both in scale and in the disconcerting feeling of environments that should feel more normal than they do.

From the press release-

Despite their verisimilitude, Therrien’s rooms impede the viewer’s ability to engage with space in any comfortable way.  Meticulously assembled features of common industrial design allow one to stand in front of architectural vistas. Elevated above ground level and cut away to show interiors that, like dioramas, become impenetrable replicas of reality, each is like a mise-en-scène or readymade. No title (room, panic doors) (2013–14) presents a set of doors in a room filled with fluorescent light. In No title (paneled room) (2017), tambourines rest silent on the floor of a room luxuriously paneled in hardwood, and a ladder leads to a trapdoor in the ceiling. Each room transports the viewer out of the gallery and into a new narrative situation, prompting connections between material details and their subconscious associations. By making use of everyday things that are often overlooked, Therrien situates the viewer in familiar territory, then allows the objects to demand reassessment as instruments of subjectivity and of consciousness itself.

This exhibition closes 5/26/17.

For a room of a different sort, there is Gabriel Lester’s Nevada at Ryan Lee gallery, in which various sections of a wall sized installation light up as assorted voices tell their stories.

                                                                                        Nevada, 2017 (image courtesy of Ryan Lee)

From the press release-

Questions of presence and absence resurface in Nevada, the second component of this exhibition. Nevada confronts the viewer with a floor to ceiling modular wall. Carefully selected objects that correspond with the individual stories combined in Nevada’s multilayered narrative occupy each compartment. Guided by light and sound, the viewer navigates the histories of a series of anonymous characters that find themselves locked out of the world they used to inhabit. In an effort to escape the parallel world in which they have come to dwell, each character attempts to understand the nature and cause of their own existence. Considering personal memories and local histories of migration, mining, gambling, nuclear test sites, and mysterious locations like Area 51 and the Nevada triangle (an area in the California-Nevada desert where numerous aircrafts have vanished), Lester’s Nevada probes the tensions that link the seemingly distinct characteristics of this place to a number of characters looking for a way back to a life they have lost.

The exhibition opens onto a room of low-resolution LED panels showing internet-sourced images of near extinct animals and their habitats. The two rooms feel like separate exhibitions but are brought together by their shared qualities of losing one’s place in the current world.

This show runs until 5/20/17.

May 062017

                                                                                             Drizzle (Wangechi Mutu) 2010

                                                                                                  Redhead, 2015

Marilyn Minter: Pretty/Dirty at Brooklyn Museum is absolutely stunning and a must see if you are in New York. The four decades of her work shown in the retrospective offer a chance to see the artist’s progression in style and technique, as well as content.

The exhibit starts with early black and white photos Minter took of her mother, smoking in bed, applying makeup or just staring into a mirror, with a hint of a former glamour that has now faded. It becomes immediately clear that Minter’s interest in exploring standards of beauty were present early on.  Moving through the exhibit you follow her evolution into her current work. From her early Photorealist paintings, to suggestive paintings of food, and then moving gradually to work that more explicitly uses sexual imagery, including a series of pubic hair paintings for Playboy that were mostly rejected. In that same section her slow motion videos of thick liquids being licked up and spit out on a glass pane by a red lipped mouth, walk the line between fascinating and repulsive.  Her large scale photo-realistic enamel on metal paintings that make up a large part of the retrospective are a particular standout with their lush colors.  The exhibition ends with the video, Smash, 2014, in which ominous music plays as a closeup of feet in high heeled silver sandals and red painted toenails breaks glass and splashes silvery liquid in slow motion. It is mesmerizing.

This interview with Minter is interesting and shows the work in the retrospective (from when it was shown at the Orange County Museum of Art)-

This exhibition closes 5/7/17.


Mar 102017

Katharina Grosse’s current exhibition at Gagosian, consists of dynamic brightly colored canvases and one cast metal sculpture. Unlike traditional painting, these works are created using a spray gun which creates the unique effects.

Her process is described in the press release-

Embracing the events and incidents that arise as she paints, Grosse opens up surfaces and spaces to the countless perceptual possibilities of the medium. While she is widely known for her temporary and permanent in situ work, which she paints directly onto architecture, interiors, and landscapes, her approach begins in the studio. With calculated focus, she allows new patterns and procedures in her paintings to emerge from action, further multiplying this potential with stencils cut from cardboard and thick foam rubber—tools with which to develop further cuts, layers, and perspectival depths. Grosse’s gestures unfold all at the same time in unmixed acrylic colors, engulfing the viewer in a toxic sublime.

In this exhibition, selected works from several interconnected suites of untitled paintings produced during the last twelve months demonstrate this constant interaction of process and material. Base shapes migrate from one painting to another, appearing in new layers or fusing into clusters that advance and retreat. The paintings record Grosse’s ongoing choices about color, density, and velocity. In one group, monadic forms proclaim their specific hues within larger zones of color. A red shape takes its place amidst expressive jewel-toned streaks. A plane of cerulean blue opens, or perhaps closes, to a black and yellow void. In other more complex orchestrations, these coloristic moments become so compelling that the canvas, which supports it all, is easily forgotten.

Grosse also made news this past summer with her installation for MOMA P.S. 1, titled Rockaway!. Located at Fort Tilden, she used a similar technique to paint an abandoned and soon to be demolished building (due to being structurally unsound after Hurricane Sandy).


 Grosse’s gallery exhibition closes this weekend, 3/11/17.



Feb 182017

                                                                                        Rest During The Flight Into Egypt, 2016

                                                                                           The Alpine Retreat, 2016

Many of Adrian Ghenie’s oil paintings take up their own wall in Pace Gallery and it is hard not to be drawn in by the bold colors and the blend of figuration and abstraction. The exhibition also includes some of his smaller collage pieces, which help to show Ghenie’s process for creating this work, and three of his self portraits.

From the press release-

Born in 1977 in Baia Mare, Romania, Adrian Ghenie was formally trained as a representational painter. He adopted conceptual tendencies from Dada that he synthesizes with his rigorous technical abilities, displaying both a Baroque mastery of chiaroscuro and a gestural handling of paint indebted to Abstract Expressionism. In 2008, Ghenie’s paintings began to explore themes of history, memory, and the former Communist regime of his native Romania, not through biographical reflection but rather through a direct address of the legacies of historical figures. The imagery in his paintings is largely derived from historical sources incorporated into dreamlike or cinematic vignettes in which figures appear in haunting interiors.

This show closes 2/18.