Situated in an edgy, high-ceilinged industrial building in the heart of Newark, NJ, Index Art Center is an opportune space for the audacious exhibition, Making Time. The “making” in Making Time does not go overlooked as a common narrative that dynamically integrates modes of digital experimentation with the low-tech and analog. An inherent value for the artisanal and traces of the hand exist at its core and are experienced as an underlying subtext, as is the manipulation of time. Levels of viewer interaction and immersion are manifold in two and three-dimensional renditions as well as multimedia installations incorporating the elements of sound, video, kinetics and augmented reality.
Nimbly enacting a non-linear experience of “space-time,” one is encouraged to circulate through the exhibit counterclockwise from gallery entrance. To complement this curatorial intent, Making Time is staged in a dimmed ambient light that sets a discretely introspective tone so that each individual work is not overshadowed; this effect creates a kinesthesis between all of the artwork within the gallery interior. Light is then used as a phenomenon which is either internally inscribed or emanating from some of the media and is deliberately interspersed throughout.
One then aptly encounters Brandon Neubauer’s Six Months from Now, from the series It’s Sad, but the Telling Takes Me Home. Documentation spanning from 2007-2013, Neubauer’s multimedia installation is an autobiographical work verging on self-portraiture and possesses an aura that transports the viewer somewhere else. Large chromogenic prints line the walls and surround screen-based video stills as Neubauer’s romantic landscapes counterbalance vast expanses of sky and farmland with repeated shots of an isolated tree – a specter of sorts. For the most part, this photographic presentation hinges on dissecting the moving image into frame stills, a reversal of videography processes, as well as time. Erratic lighting and cross-processing techniques accentuate permutations in the photographs by fusing technology and modes of documentation with the handcrafted, whilst evoking vestiges of prehistory in the shot location, Neubauer’s ancestral property. Concepts of naming and personal identity are etymologically reinforced in the artist’s surname – the English translation of Neubauer is “new farmer.” Lending an added agency to the work, the artist encourages one’s own personal narratives and interpretations to be realized in viewership.
Complementary to Neubauer’s staging is a motorized praxinoscope by the duo of Ginger Andro and Chuck Glicksman, Jumping Hurdles. With much stimuli of late being ciphered or mediated, this captivating, low-tech installation summons immediacy and the visceral through combined action, or “praxis,” and materiality. (The praxinoscope is a rotating device which, when set in motion, reflects single images from its central cylinder). As Jumping Hurdles rotates, light, scent and sound emanate. Muybridge’s pioneering of motion picture projection is latent in the work – albeit inverted, as are Virillo’s theories on dromology and perceptions of speed. And despite signs of the high and equestrian, this scopic object dually invokes dromological notions of the low: roulette tables, race tracks, “the will to win” and “the need for speed” are easily conjured. Inferences to the irreverent idiom “one-trick pony” are befitting in that as the equine image cyclically repeats it maintains an inaccessible self-referentiality in construction and connotation. Moreover, the praxinoscope’s conical fabrication creates an overt void in the installation – a dark steel, spinning vortex appears to engulf the space and the objects around it. In a cheeky and slightly derisive way, this conical form plays with allusions to Making Time as it duplicitously serves, with all its sensory trappings, as either an entrance into infinity, or, fast-moving, sexually implicit content. The aforesaid components thus intermingle to produce a highly enlivened yet isolated live event.
Set on black and white plinths, Melissa Fleming’s cabinets of curiosity elicit the otherworldliness of natural phenomena. Fleming is preoccupied not only with the graceful object but with the act of viewership itself; each display beckons up-close, heightened inspection. Highly graphic treatments in her Under Glass series accentuate form in space as they enhance light and shadow and fluid reflections, expertly evinced in Memory, 41 years. The artist furthers investigative processes by introducing a refined sensibility to systems for naming and classifying the natural world; serif fonts intonating titles and related data are engraved into the Victorian-influenced domes that encase her specimens. Recalling a sense of place, Under Glass equally reinstates notions of time in the act of preserving and recording.
Other curated pieces that reflect, refract or imbue light in some manner and achieve considerable agency include Shuli Sade’s interactive, augmented reality photographs, Major Zipper and Afterimage #1-11, and Sizhu Li’s elegant Trace of Time, an additional motorized environment stationed in the corner of the gallery.
Emergent media often involves engaging with processes of accessing, evaluating, and creating the material conditions in the given environment it will inhabit in order to achieve optimum results. Staged center of gallery, Wolfgang Gil’s state-of-the-art Aural Fields Zero investigates generative, multi-channel sound through customized audience experiences that showcase its sagacious potential. Similar to the crafting of a malleable abstraction which can ostensibly be manipulated into limitless configurations, sound here functions viscerally. Through interactive moments of audience-induced amplification, this installation enables the act of listening to also be experienced as a medium redefined through non-prescriptive interpretations of real time. One can surmise from empirical experience with the work that the “Zero” in Aural Fields may also equate to translations of space and time that are neither additive nor subtractive but exist as a preconceived neutrality – a sonic baseline from which audience interaction as an authentic “event” can organically materialize.
Gail Biederman also uniquely reframes space and time in two site-specific installations from her Lost series. Comprised of spiky nails and handmade felt, Biederman repurposes the sensory with knotty residuals from original wall drawings made for specific spaces. While the initial prototypes utilized self-conscious rigor in deliberation, these new permutations rely on chance and unexpected outcomes, thereby engaging in a re-enactment of autobiographical content through new morphologies within the current location.
In light of the above, sensory interaction in Making Time appears to be an integral, comprehensive component for an inimitable experience of the varied and innovative media represented.
Patti Jordan is a New York City-based interdisciplinary artist, writer, and educator working within the spheres of visual and media culture. Her creative practice prioritizes materiality as well as alternative and process-based approaches to aesthetics. She has written art reviews, manuscripts and business case studies for such publications as Artefuse, Intellect Publishing, Bloomsbury Fashion Central, AS/Artist Studios, Fashion Mannuscript Magazine, and the Women’s Caucus for Art’s International Caucus.
Wavelength is a collaborative project founded by Gianluca Bianchino and Jeanne Brasile whose curatorial practice bridges art and science through immersive exhibitions and symposia. Making Time is at Index Art Center’s Main Gallery May 18 – June 14. Artists include Ginger Andro and Chuck Glicksman, Chris Arabadjis, Gail Biederman, Melissa Fleming, Wolfgang Gil, Jay King, Sizhu Li, Monica Mazzone, Brandon Neubauer, Shuli Shade, and Travis LeRoy Southworth.
Located at 237 Washington St. in Newark, NJ, Index Art Center is a non-profit exhibition space committed to supporting Newark’s community of emerging art and artists. Index Art Center continues to serve as a vital platform for critical dialogue around current and emergent issues in contemporary art.