Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Iceberg number r11i01, June 21st, 2004. Photograph by Dan Johnson

The previous Focus of Inigo Manglano-Ovalle, working in a totally different mode, was also very good. What sticks with one most is the look and feel of the exhibition, its sparse and polished aesthetic. Vanishing Sky (2005) was a three-screen projection of “a self-generating digital image of a constantly changing night sky.” And Iceberg (r11i01) (2005), a scale model made of tubing and based on radar and sonar scans of a real iceberg in the Labrador Sea. The iceberg was suspended in the Alfred Shaw-designed staircase of Gallery 135 (see, it all fits together).

Manglano-Ovalle and Plessen represent two methods of working, one collaborating with a team of experts, the other working alone in the studio. No one method is correct, but it is interesting to compare the vast array in which people make art.

The main short coming of Manglano-Ovalle’s exhibition is that it easily falls into the art-pseudo-science category (see Matthew Richie). Art that is a veiled science lesson, that teaches you something only when you read the handout about it, can only give so much pleasure to a viewer. Is “we wrote a new program to calculate this video” the art&tech equivalent to “it took three hours to shade your upper lip”?

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