Friday 6 August 2010 / Extra Extra / 2222 Sepviva St. / Philadelphia PA
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Review by Gene McHugh, first posted Monday 26 July 2010
“Artie Vierkant and Constant Dullaart” is an exhibition at Extra Extra in Philadelphia consisting of recent work by Vierkant and Dullaart.
As one enters the exhibition, the relatively large size, bold color and graphic simplicity of Vierkant’s RGB Icon, a large wall-based collage of rectangular color gradients in the shape of a multi-pronged, upward-pointing arrow, is perhaps the first work in the exhibition to catch one’s eye. After this first glance, the work’s themes, then, emerge. The collision of the computer-created look of the color gradient and a reference to the RGB color spectrum (the color scale emitted by the light of the computer monitor which is opposed to the CMYK color spectrum employed in the printing process), suggest that Vierkant’s icon is a work devoted to the visual experience of the computer over that of the “real world.” Both this focus on the virtual space of the computer as iconic as well as the relationship of this virtual space to the physical space outside of the computer are the themes which run through the rest of the works in the exhibition and also what connect Vierkant and Dullaart as artists. Despite being based in different parts of the world in a geographical sense, they each focus on local concerns related to the production of work in the landscape of the computer and digital culture.
For example, to the left of RGB Icon is Dullaart’s Lenticular Waves, physical GIF works, appropriated photos of straight horizontal ocean horizons à la Sugimoto to which the artist both applied the Photoshop wave effect as well as printed on thirty-step lenticular lens. This work is, then, paired with Vierkant’s Exposure Adjustment on a Sunset, a video of an ocean sunset to which the artist digitally adjusts the “brightness” level, resulting in a sunset in which the sky never grows dark but rather increasingly digitally “noisy.” In both cases, the artist exaggerates a digital effect in an ironic context involving cliché imagery of natural phenomena. In doing so, they make the digital technology which enframes this imagery more visible. Likewise, in the works to the right of RGB Icon, Dullaart’s series YouTube as Subject I, videos whose subject matter is the design tropes of the YouTube video player itself, and Vierkant’s Framing Exercise & OK, a series of prints depicting patterns derived from certain design tropes of Web browsing and personal computing, each seek to illuminate what Dullaart has called “contemporary semantics” or the computing-native elements of visual literacy with which computer users engage on a daily basis.
One of the highlights of the exhibition was Dullaart’s opening night performance of DVD screensaver performance in which the artist held a sign with the branding of the DVD technology familiar to anyone who has left a DVD player paused or cycling through the menu for too long on a computer. Dullaart silently glides this sign up, down, left, and right in a mimicry of the DVD screensaver while being videotaped and, then, projected back live on a wall behind him in the gallery. Again, by ironically exaggerating and re-contextualizing an element of digital culture, Dullaart illuminates a part of the ordinary world whose effects are often otherwise invisible.
Gene McHugh is the author of Post Internet, a critical blog focusing on post-internet or "internet aware" art. McHugh has served as the Editorial Fellow for Rhizome at the New Museum, contributed to Artforum, and is the recipient of an Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant for his work on Post Internet.