Alex McLeod, troche Estates of the Splendorus and Secret at Anno Domini
Bernie Lubell: Conservation of Intimacy at the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art
Lineas: New Modes of Contemporary Urbanism recent work by Tanya Aguiniga and Teddy Cruz at MACLA
These three exhibitions are part of the arts programming for the 3rd annual 01SJ Biennial produced by Zero 1. This event celebrates the uniqueness of San Jose and the city’s connection to technology by incorporating art exhibits, seek
lecture series, workshops, presentations, and many more public events. Each event incorporates technology and art, the effect of which is eclectic, but in a great way, with options for even the most skeptical of viewers. The main events start next week on September 16-19, where a large portion of downtown San Jose will be turned into a technology and arts festival.
In the meantime, I was able to visit three local galleries that are participating in the Biennial: Anno Domini, San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA), and the MACLA/Movimiento De Arte Y Cultura Latino Americana. Alex McLeod was commissioned by Anno Domini to produce a new body of work for this event. McLeod’s work has evolved over the last couple of years to include a more complex and varied visual language. His compositions are both complicated and beautiful. Estates of the Splendorous and Secret, evokes mansions and forests, playing with ones sense of interior and exterior space and ones relation to the environment. These pieces fit into the theme of the 01SJ, quite well—as each piece is a one of a kind image, there are two prints made one large and one small—and represent a great use of 3-D modeling programs available to artists. Many people use these programs commercially to create animation/special effects or Computer Generated Imagery (CGI). In most cases, the end products of this work can be generally bland—McLeod very successfully manages to create images that are both interesting and well made.
Walking down the street, my next stop was at the MACLA. Tanya Aguniniga presented a number of large fiber installation, ranging from wool fiber to wool chair sculptures and a series of items brought back with her from Chiapas, where she worked with a community of fiber crafts women. These objects were comprised of emphemera and photos from her experience as well as a great collection of handmade stuffed animals made by the women she met there. Aguniniga is primarily a furniture designer, but her work crosses many genres in both a playful and socially relevant way in this exhibit. In conjunction with Aguniniga was the work of Teddy Cruz. He explored ideas of space, borders, and zoning by describing a Buddhist temple in LA that is in a quasi-legal zoning area and providing diagrams of power relationships between the strata that one would expect to find in that sort of critique. The two artists work blended together nicely, creating both a tactile and cerebral experience.
Next stop, the ICA, where artist Bernie Lubell has installed a number of rather bizarre “machines” made of roughly hewn wood, latex, and metal. Many of the pieces were interactive, but it was not really evident what the machines were supposed to do. As objects they were somewhat interesting, particularly because of the materials and his fascination with latex tubing, but they sort of fell short in practicality. On the other side of the ICA gallery space was an exhibit on experimental photography techniques and was shockingly more compelling than the hand hewn machines and coincidentally not a prominently featured part of the 01SJ Biennial. This part of the exhibit surveyed 19th century photographic technologies, citing the move from the dark room to the digital darkroom in the 21st century and that artists are becoming increasingly interested in these antiques technologies. It was quite interesting to see the variety of techniques available to artists and contemporary examples of tintypes, daguerreotypes, pinhole cameras, bichromate prints, cyanotypes, wet collodian plates, and more. Exposed: Today’s Photography/Yesterday’s Technology was an interesting response to the questions of art and technology that are circulating in contemporary art.
There were many more gallery-related events for the Biennial this year, but I did not have time to explore them all. The three galleries that I attended all grappled with the idea of how art and technology are united and some of the issues that can be explored. For the main event there will be many more robotic and high tech computer related displays and workshops, illustrating the strengths of the Silicon Valley and in some ways the shortcomings of technology.
For a full listing of events this week http://01sj.org/programs/exhibitions/