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Blah Blah Blah!
Artists Respond To Information Overload
By Renee Fidziukiewicz
Work. Wash. Sleep. Wait. Look. Sigh. Wash. Worry. Wash. Wash. A raspy, monotonous voice mutters these words from somewhere in the ceiling of the bathroom. Ceramic soap dishes protrude from every wall and the familiar stench of piss lingers in the tiny room. The toilet gurgles, though you see that the water is motionless in the bowl. Your eyes contradict your ears. The words "Wash, sleep, wash" beating on your eardrums are also imprinted on your eyes. "Wash" is slathered across every inch of the walls in the bathroom. The product of such a scene? Total sensory bombardment. This elevated level of interactive art allows the artistís message to enter your cognition through every sense possible.
The Bathroom piece is only one of the mind-altering sensory works at the info@blah: Overload and Organization exhibit. Each creation is the artistís response to Information Overload; they attempt to organize the random chaos of unfiltered data that overflows our minds each day. The fusion of sculpture, video media, and net.art allows meaning to emerge from the disorder of information that has cluttered our brains, synthesizing it into a creative output.
Joseph Smolinskiís Potato Cell piece stirred nostalgia within me; I was reminded of seventh grade science and the famous Potato Battery Experiment. As you enter through a black curtain into a small, dim room, you see an incredible network of potatoes; each potato is connected by a series of thin copper wires that serves as a power source to the faint lights that hang from the ceiling. The noxious smell of moldy vegetables sent an upsurge of nauseousness through my stomach, and I realized that the potatoes were rotting. Once the potato batteries have fully decayed, the room will grow dimmer and eventually surrender to blackness. The theme of mortality and entropy are suggested by the artist, in reference to lost and unsynthesized information.
A stack of old static-lined televisions tottering on top of each other stands as the centerpiece of the exhibit. The Whoosh piece plays a video on each television screen with an emotive combination of sentences that fly across black and white images. An image of blurred hands furiously typing on a keyboard is superimposed with sentences that say, "I am the best spongey body/ I taste my gasoline breath, but thatís okay/ Iím glad to give myself up to something larger than me/ I am a man multiplied by motor." Anouk De Clercq explains her work:
"Iím trying to live with machines and still be gritty and organic. By making the video, I make poetry through machines."
Revealed Messages was hard to figure out. Rows of a hundred tiny chocolates in white wrappers were set up on a long table; some of the chocolates were missing. From the remaining chocolates, I tried to discern some sort of pattern or code until I realized that the chocolates had simply been eaten by viewers at random. A sign next to it said, "Please take a chocolate." Free chocolate, yea, art is great!
Natalie Loveless placed comfy chairs in front of her artwork Working Notes: translation/history/ archive so that viewers could ponder it for hours. Her piece was created right on top of the gallery walls; she left every dent, paint mark, and piece of tape carelessly (or precisely) hanging from her piece, which consisted of a series of miniscule holes fashioned in a gridlike manner. Various pins were driven into random holes, from a regular tack to a Betty Boop pin. If you send Natalie Loveless a pin, she guarantees to put it in her artwork; she has collected pins from people who have sent them to her from all over the world and pledges to use each one in a future piece of artwork.
By far, the most intriguing pieces were the net.art compositions; a computer monitor that had been embedded in a white table allows you to use the mouse and interact with the art onscreen. By clicking on the "composer," the computer would generate stanzas of poetry from random words: my stanza came out as "Arches woke lifeless/Listen Torn Uninhabited/The chilling image of the twentieth century spreading upwards/The pathology of a city." The "mixer" option allows you to create your own net.art by mixing sounds and images; a speeding train, a piercing whistle, and a weird droning sound were available to be mixed against random images of spiraling cubes and and rotating cylinders.
Most of the artwork at the info@blah exhibit is interactive and in many cases, extremely disorienting. The Mills Gallery at the Boston Center for the Arts (539 Tremont Street) will be displaying the exhibition until May 11, and on April 27th from 5-7 pm, the artists and curators will be available for questions.
Other articles by Renee Fidziukiewicz
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