Lower East Side Printshop presents Everything Is Not All There Is guest curated by Nicole Caruth, an independent art writer and curator. The exhibition will be on view at the Printshop from July 11 – September 9, 2012 with a reception on Wednesday, July 18 from 6-8pm.
Digital technologies are making it easier all the time to share and receive information. Yet our constant circulating of data obscures messages as easily as we can deliver them. Artists have and continue to probe this daily deluge of stuff to reveal more about contemporary communication and experiences than might be discerned through any interface. Everything Is Not All There Is consists of recent prints and drawings by Lower East Side Printshop residents Shanti Grumbine, Naomi Reis, and Julian Wellisz. Collectively, they explore newspapers, blogs, software, and structural designs. They trace flows of data, unveil unseen narratives, decode systems, and sift cultural memes. Their works speak to the vitality of the print medium (i.e. the analog) alongside newer modes of communication.
Shanti Grumbine cuts and reconfigures pages of The New York Times to lay bare the newspaper’s structure and “the aggressive order of the grid.” Her latest project Score (an extension of her earlier series Kenosis) follows the life of a certain news story each day all the way through to its end. She removes the text and images with an X-Acto knife and all headlines and pull quotes are erased. This act of, in the artist’s term, “excising” implies that the content is irrelevant. It also calls to mind the so-called death of print resulting from new devices and apps. But Grumbine says that with this method she “makes space for what has been censored in media as well as what is lost in the translation of experience into words.” She then uses the cut objects as negatives for her screen prints. To the Score pieces she has added a medieval four-line staff and clef, alluding to music composition. “Each score can be interpreted and performed as a chant in which media content is translated into the repetition of sound and breath.”
For her Ad Screen Test series, Grumbine superimposes her cut newspaper grids onto full-page advertisements for luxury goods and name brands such as Cartier, Bacardi, and Saks. The effect is comparable to the thin shadows of Venetian blinds, suggesting something semi-private or thinly veiled. In this, Grumbine seeks to “highlight the subtle dialogue between content, viability and corporate funding in printed media and journalism in general.”
Naomi Reis eschews text too, favoring instead the celestial. Her Untitled drawings, which are based on a 3D modeling program, “imagine a journey through an industrial wasteland of outdated technologies—dirigible hangers, the interiors of oil refineries—viewed as if through the lens of an airborne surveillance camera.” Fine and spiraling white lines on black paper read like the Milky Way—a majestic constellation within an abyss. The Untitled drawings are a delicate confluence of “abstract and realistic space, analog and digital techniques.”
Reis also finds inspiration in the visionary Buckminster Fuller. In another suite of drawings titled Broken Geodesic Spheres she reproduces Fuller’s iconic structure for the Expo ‘67 Montreal World’s Fair. “Fuller’s geodesic forms look as if they belong on the moon…and continue to fire the imagination long after their utility has faded,” says the artist. Reis sketched the form with a lightness that makes it appear capable of orbiting off the paper. Yet, as the title implies, there are small breaks, errors, in her versions. In the context of this exhibition, Broken Geodesic Spheres embody many different ideas about digital systems and globalization, the architectures of the web, and to the unknowns of future technologies.
Julian Wellisz surveys bizarre images in the blogosphere in his series .TUMBLR. For each of these silkscreen prints, Wellisz copies images from a single blog, primarily using those of teenagers. “The images in my work have been and will continue to be reused, reblogged, and recycled thousands of times,” says Wellisz. “The imagery addresses how seemingly infinite digital access has contributed to the youth’s loss of innocence and embrace of the grotesque.” Printed in columns, with one image stacked on top of another, each piece feels something like an Exquisite Corpse wherein different streams of consciousness connect, oftentimes resulting in eerie compositions.