Future (Im)Perfect

[The Future as Disruption] considers a global perspective on technological advancement and its impact on issues ranging from race and gender to economic exchange, but it is also relevant to the more localized anxieties of its New York audience.

poster for

"The Future As Disruption" Exhibition

at The Kitchen
in the Chelsea 14th - 19th area
This event has ended - (2008-06-18 - 2008-08-01)

In Reviews by Rob Sgobbo 2008-06-30 print

As Norbert Weiner, applied mathematician and scholar of cybernetics, once wrote, “Progress not only imposes new possibilities for the future, but new restrictions.” Similarly, “The Future as Disruption,” a collaborative exhibition on view at The Kitchen in Chelsea from June 18-August 1, 2008, seeks to question our notions of human progress and its possibilities for our future.

The show provides a strong showing from a variety of artists using different mediums to portray “human progress” in its diverse forms. Taking inspiration from contemporary science-fiction writing, television and movies, the pieces seek to provide a critical eye to what many believe are the benefits of technological advancement, globalization and the construction of mega-cities.

Jonah Freeman's
'1986' (2006).
Digital print,
44 x 44 inches.
Courtesy of the artist and Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York.One of the show’s centerpieces, 1986 (2006), a photograph created by Jonah Freeman, is a spliced and reconstructed image of a picturesque mega-city. Featuring towering skyscrapers connected by arching causeways, Freeman provides the viewer with a certain dark beauty found in the construction of his “city of the future.” With the gleaming lights of buildings reflecting against a dark foreground, one can’t help but notice the absence of people in this gigantic metropolis. The photograph’s title pays homage to George Orwell’s sadistic classic 1984, while its causeways connecting the skyscrapers are eerily reminiscent of Jeremy Bentham’s prison panopticon—an architectural “all-seeing eye” of a central security power. In the photograph, Freeman gives a dual vision of progress: one of gleaming Jetsons-esque architecture created by enhanced human technology, and one of a city devoid of human presence and interaction. Despite the visceral beauty shown in Freeman’s constructed mega-city, one can’t help but question the implications of such progress.

The duality found in 1986 is reiterated throughout “The Future as Disruption,” and acts as the show’s central theme. Matthew Lyons, who co-curated the event with Rashida Bumbray, spoke to the meaning of the show as a whole saying, “Having direct influence from Sci-Fi and from fictional worlds, the show takes a global critical perspective of hyper-urban spaces. These spaces of seeming human progress have consequences for commerce, human identity, race and gender. All of the pieces exist and give full attention to this central theme. Their placement and movement throughout the gallery allow this theme to make sense.” In touring through The Kitchen’s high-ceilinged second floor gallery, it is evident Lyons and Bumbray have paid close attention to the placement of the 10-piece exhibition, guiding viewers through the gallery and allowing them to develop their own perceptions of the messages conveyed by the works of different mediums.

A particularly poignant piece created by Julieta Aranda, Sean Dack, Adam Pendleton and Mungo Thomson employs sculpture, text, printed books, video and sound to explore the darker aspects of the 1950s Atomic Age. Consisting of a Plexiglass display case filled with worn and destroyed copies of futuristic science-fiction novels such as Dune and The Kaleidoscope Room, the piece begs the viewer to question the nature of such imagined technological advancements and their effects on human life. Torn newspaper clippings with headlines like “Elevator Debacle Linked To…” and “UFO… Unidentified… 7 Dead…” express the anxieties of the political and social climate characterizing this era of “progress” in our human history.

Olalekan B. Jeyifous
in collaboration with Matty Vaz,
'PNote Currency'
Digital print,
30 x 30 inches.
Courtesy of the artists.While the individual pieces of “The Future as Disruption” each hold their own in providing social commentary, as a collection this show provides an eloquent and topical statement on the condition of the world today. The exhibition considers a global perspective on technological advancement and its impact on issues ranging from race and gender to economic exchange, but it is also relevant to the more localized anxieties of its New York audience. Freeman’s mega-city, in particular, plays to anxieties of urban development in a dialogue with New York and its recent crane collapses, ongoing gentrification and other growing pains. Aranda’s Atomic Age piece also invokes current fears over terrorism and “weapons of mass destruction.”

Although these artists have created a refined perspective on the world today, their sometimes abstract, multi-layered pieces are open to different interpretations, giving us liberty to come to our own conclusions—and perhaps more importantly, our own questions—about the condition of progress.

ALSO OF INTEREST
The Kitchen will be screening three films, all having their New York premiere, on Tuesday, July 1, 2008. At 7pm is The Otolith Group’s Otolith I and Mark Aeriel Waller’s Superpower Dakar Chapter. At 8pm is Cauleen Smith’s The Fullness of Time, followed by a conversation with the filmmaker and artist Paul Chan. The film was part of Creative Time and Paul Chan’s recent project Waiting for Godot in New Orleans. Admission is free.

Rob Sgobbo

Rob Sgobbo. Rob grew up in Princeton, New Jersey where he would often ditch school to attend gallery openings in Chelsea at the ripe old age of 16. After attending Haverford College, where he received his BA in Politics, he moved to the East Village. Committing himself to two years with Teach For America, Rob divides his time traveling to the South Bronx and freelance writing. Some of his interests include traveling to dangerous places in Eastern Europe, photographing ugly dogs in Tompkins Square Park and playing with his new frozen margarita machine. » See other writings

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