#FUTUREMYTH: Digital Myth-Making in Physical Space

April 25, 2013 | Kyle Chayka

Last week, the tech-minded art gallery 319 Scholes opened “#FUTUREMYTH,” a group exhibition featuring artists who explore contemporary mythology within the confines of the art gallery setting. The works in the show thoughtfully embrace the aesthetic of a technology-driven lifestyle, utilizing a slew of iPads, 3D prints as well as a selection of readymade objects. This type of material sensibility links many of the artists work together — as each work seems to be concerned with the lingua franca of today’s technology-immersed individual.

Each work exhibits very specific choices in material, both structurally and in terms of narrative. One of the stronger works in the show included Promethium (above) a rather odd sculpture by Iain Ball as well as part of his E N E R G Y⋮P A N G E A / Rare Earth Sculpture Project series. The mythology surrounding this piece is interesting — it’s based on The Winklevoss Twins, two brothers who sued Facebook in 2004 for “stealing their idea.” Ball cleverly links this to the concept of “unrealized potentials,” giving the piece its strange cellular appearance:

Energy Pangea was faced with the task of coming up with a solution which would not only harness this unrealized potential and escalating frustration that the Winklevoss twins embody, we also sought to find a method which would convert that energy into a new potential pathway for speculative gain in the field of Rare Earth Metals.

Among many of the other works in the show, Promethium already seems to have a very comfortable home on the internet accompanied with an anthropological history of the piece and insight into what exactly you’re actually looking at — a continuation of the Winklevoss myth. This turns the viewing of the piece into a narrative, unless you haven’t looked it up. In the gallery, it’s very much open for the viewer to decode it for themselves.

Another standout is Jasper Spicero‘s Work Bench (3s), part of his series The Prison Painter — it features a small plastic storage compartment, an M&M and a quite complex 3D-printed shape, created by “Donny.” This work also  leaves the viewer little to go on as far as a narrative and benefits greatly from a post-show internet search. With the supplementary documentation of the work and an interview with “the artist,” Spicero’s piece can be inferred as a call for empathy for this fictional “Donny.” In any case — with context or not — Spicero’s decision to be sparse and relatively monotones reads like a romantic gesture. Oh, woe, the lonely “prison painter.”

With the sheer volume of works under a common theme, the show is a survey of artists pulling from influences of current events, advancements in technology and modern life. There’s a sense of tragedy in the sparseness of materials — not in a visually minimalist sense, but in its somber preciseness.

Forgoing much of the use of paint, wood, metal, and many other “traditional” materials, the works in #FUTUREMYTH speak to a newer audience, one that is perhaps more familiar with an iPhone than a paintbrush. It’s refreshing to see this type of work emerging in spaces outside of the internet and exhibited more prominently within the gallery context. This type of work all seems to share a common attitude, one that forgoes building and laboring over an object for, instead, intelligent utilization the abundance of available materials and organizing them in a meaningful way through a series of thoughtful, meticulous gestures.

For further reading, check out the exhibition website with an essay entitled “FutureMyth Notes” by Adam Rothstein. “#FUTUREMYTH,” Curated by Christina Latina and Daniel Leyva, Artists: Kari AltmannMatthew ArkellIain BallEnrico BocciolettiManuel BürgerSterling CrispinClaire L. EvansRyan Whittier Hale, Erin Henry, Emily JonesTaylor KuffnerPaul LaffoleyKareem LotfyJonas Lund + Sebastian SchmiegEinar ÖbergRafaël RozendaalJasper SpiceroTanner Family, and Clement Valla + Erik Berglin, Apr 18 – May 5, Opening reception Apr 18 7PM-10PM, 319 SCHOLES, Brooklyn (Photo: Iain Ball/Flickr, Kyle Petreycik/ANIMALNewYork)