Is It Real, or Is It Internet?

Despite what you may have heard, the Internet is not actually made of cats or Charlie Sheen jokes or increasingly idiosyncratic porn. It’s made of giant, complex databases that store history’s most extensive library of office time-wasters and masturbation fodder. But no matter what kind of online content you’re consuming, there’s always an abstract, detached quality to the medium. The new sculpture exhibition "Jessica Drenk and Shawn Smith" brings those labyrinthine databases and compressed web images into the physical world. Drenk’s subjects are the information systems that undergird our global digital infrastructure. She creates minimalist works built from some of the most analog materials imaginable — cotton swabs, toothpicks, coffee filters, and other assorted trash. In doing so, her sculptures transform complex digital systems into elegantly simple totems. While Drenk simplifies the impossibly complex, Smith’s work resembles tech so archaic that folks born during the Clinton administration might mistake it for analog. His wooden sculptures are meticulous representations of two-dimensional images from the Internet and TV. A goat from a .jpg or an ibex from a nature program are re-created in the physical world, with results that resemble a cross between the pixel art of 8-bit Nintendo games and a giant Jenga puzzle. In both cases, the artists create physical representations of digitized images of the real world, resulting in a deliriously conceptual mindfuck.
April 7-14, 2011

 
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