Sunday, March 20, 2011

Time Travel at the Art League

I missed the opening of this exhibit of work by Patrick R. Turk at the Art League, but that was perhaps a blessing in disguise. This work is best experienced alone. You enter a darkened gallery with a large hexagonal column in the center. Each face of the column has a lighted part at about eye level. The six lighted parts are composed of circular lenses of varying sizes and varying levels of magnification. When you look through the lenses, you see a brightly lit collage behind them. The collage is three dimensional, and in some the pieces, there are moving elements. Each collage represents a time frame. For instance, one of the pieces represents 360,000,000 B.C. to 65,000,000 (the age of the dinosaurs). We also get more recent (and briefer) time spans, like 1804-1869, which starts with Lewis and Clark's expedition and ends with the completion of the transcontinental railroad. The collage images refer to the removal of the Native Americans who were in the way of America's westward expansion. Two of the pieces depict the future--including a technocratic age of robots and a ecological collapse that leads to a desperate bit of last-ditch genetic engineering.

These interpretations come from the accompanying catalog. The reality is that a viewer--this viewer at least--wouldn't have a real clue what he was seeing. I could see the dinosaurs and Native Americans, but without the catalog, I wouldn't have understood the intent. But that's OK. What is great about these six pieces is how great they look. The second you walk in the room, you are compelled to view the pieces. And viewing them may make you gasp in delight.

Patrick R. Turk, The Time Travel Research Institute, wood, LED lights, glass lenses, paper collage, 2010-2011

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