Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Stuff Seen - Jason E. Lewis



Once again, I'm playing catch up, as this show happened way back at the beginning of the year. I thought briefly about giving it a C+, but decided against it, as most of what would have caused me to downgrade it, is that both shows I've seen at Oboro this year have had numerous broken pieces of art in them. Although as this was the first one, and I did not know that I would see more broken art in the future, I don't feel that I can change things after the fact.

But as any museum worth its salt would promptly remove any painting that had been damaged from view in order to repair it - I can not se ehow Oboro allows broken art to be displayed. It does not do anyone or anything any good. Intralocutor was the piece that was busted.

So we're back to where we started. Five pieces of work by Professor Lewis (full disclosure, I can vaguely remember one night five or six years ago when he came over here and we drank an awful lot of beer and had a great time - I figure because of this he is not a stranger, but as it was a while ago, we ain't best friends either). When I read the line, "Jason E. Lewis collects together a series of text-based interactive works that explore the border lands between conflicting cultural identities, memory and history, and the visual and the textual." I almost gagged. I think it translates into something appraoching this: Prof. Lewis has made a five pieces of art that use words in ways that you don't expect. They require you, the viewer, to do something in order to make them work. Because it is the thing to do these days, we'd like to point out how Prof. Lewis' culture is not likely to be your culture so there might be some difficulties in understanding some of the work. Then as this is art, and some people expect it to look pretty, you might be surprised as well when you find it isn't.

Going through them one at a time: Text Organ was a pretty piece of technological switching. Using a keyboard as a typewriter sort of object. Unfortunately one of the things about a keyboard (and an organ) is the ability to play chords. Text Organ did not take this into account. Then if I am going to look at an instrument in a gallery context, say like at Wilder and Davis, they are presented in such a manner as to be gazed upon politely. If someone wants me to play the instrument, it is not presented in the same manner as well, and normally a teacher is present as well. Suffice it to say there was no teacher present - and as a consequence I noodled around with it, sort of in the same way I would noodle around with a fancy pen to see what color the ink was, and how it felt in my hand. Or more bluntly, so what's the point? It was not evident at all.

Nine ("a screen-based interactive in the form of a nine-tile puzzle. One tile space is empty; the viewer/user has to rearrange the remaining tiles to compose a picture. As the viewer/user grabs one of the eight tiles to move it, the image on its face fades into another image, and yet another, and on and on in a continuous loop.") was cool for about five minutes. I succeeded in getting the pieces all on the same image and then felt like I had accomplished something. The image itself wasn't particularly memorable.

What they Speak When They Speak to Me, ok touch screens are fun, for 30 seconds.

And now that I think about it, I think Cityspeak was broken as well. Or maybe I was just dense, as I couldn't figure out how to send a text message, and I was cellphone-less.

Which leaves me with the only piece that was fun. Intralocutor, despite being busted was cool. If you would like to do something similar, SimulScribe and SpinVox are available. But with the addition of the cameras I definitely got a more gangster rap sort of feel.

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