By Peter Selz, Special to the Planet
Tuesday July 11, 2006
Art at the Kala Institute is becoming increasingly multi-media. The current show, called “Future Tense,” predicts a future in which reality is replaced by its virtual substitute.
Taro Hattori’s Beaut Brute consists of disassembled parts of M16 rifles, made of plastic mirrors with great precision and laid out neatly on faux fur. A luscious bunch of reflecting grapes hangs in the corner of this glossy installation that explores a world in which violence and abundance are aestheticized.
Kathryn Kenworth’s Footnotes are stacks of fake books. They were carefully made of cardboard to look like books, but they cannot be read or opened because they are fake, virtual books. They have gone one step beyond the computer, which provides information, mere data rather than knowledge. They suggest a world in which appearance has replaced reality. But then, even in the past, there were so-called “libraries” in stately homes with all the leather-bound, never-opened classics adorning the book shelves.
Daniel Ross, artist in residence at Kala’s Electronic Media Center, presents digital photographs of nature, made with ink jet, acrylic glitter and epoxy on plywood. One of his pieces shows a photograph of three white owls floating above a tree trunk, another a pig with two heads and six legs standing in a kitsch landscape with rainbow and all. Ross, I think, comments on the platitude of so many landscape paintings in the past.
Best in Show is the combination of photography and sculpture in Nature Scenes by Srdjan Loncar, whose residence at Kala was provided by the Alliance of Artists’ Communities and the Irvine Foundation for artists affected by Hurricane Katrina. The viewer looks at a campfire environment with a tree stump and rock formations before realizing that what looks solid is soft as it has all been made of styrofoam, covered by detailed digital photographs to make it appear “real.” A CD player hidden in the campfire even makes crackling sounds of wood burning. It is all very disorienting as nature is replaced by technological simulacrum.
All four artists in “Future Tense” have used technology to make counterfeits, raising important moral questions for our time. They will hold a gallery talk at 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 15, the final day of the exhibition.