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IDEAL CONTAGION Opens at bitform gallery

IDEAL CONTAGION suggests a much-needed respite from technology as a force or mechanism for acceleration, disruption, and interruption, in favor of largely monochromatic primary structures in a quiet, contemplative key. The exhibition as a whole suggests a looming middle future where our current tsunami of data and information—largely blank, implacable and bewildering—is seamlessly internalized by each individual artist as a kind of liquid anima, which in turn becomes the material substrate of their work. In this manner, technology is subsequently transformed from a passing zeitgeist fetish—subject to cool and distant appraisal or critique—into something inscribed on, or within, the artist’s own body, buried bone-deep, etched like algorithmic scrimshaw into the far recesses of his or her own mind. It is this “human circuit” which IDEAL CONTAGION seeks to foreground and address. Additionally, each artist in the exhibition signals a modernist categorical imperative familiar to mainstream “Art History,” such as landscape, body art, or appropriation—academic divisions that have yet to percolate and trickle down into traditional digital and techno-art discourse. Barry X Ball (b. 1955, California) is a contemporary sculptor based in New York. His sculptures, although paying reverent homage to their historical antecedents, are completely new. Through the use of unconventional materials and innovative methods, the artist has reinvigorated the age-old tradition of figurative sculpture. Ball employs an elaborate array of equipment and procedures to realize his works, ranging from the cutting edge to the traditional, from 3D digital scanning, virtual modeling, rapid prototyping, and computer-controlled milling, to exquisitely-detailed hand carving and polishing. With their simultaneous fever-pitch intensity and surreal stillness, Barry X Ball’s bravura works make an expansive case for the reconsideration of contemporary sculptural practice. Richard Dupont’s (b. 1968, New York) artistic practice includes installations, sculptures, prints, paintings, and drawings. His work draws from a variety of themes and references including the body, process, and system art movements of the 1960s and 1970s. The experimental nature of these earlier movements is reexamined through the 21st-century lens of digital technology. An interest in the social implications of biometric technologies underpins much of his work. Peter Gronquist (b. 1979, Oregon) is a multi-disciplinary artist working in diverse mediums and materials ranging from video and painting to sculpture and site-specific installations in our natural and built environment. Whether harnessing the wind itself with a massive, silver monochrome flag rippling in the middle of the desert or activating the soft, penumbral glow around an industrial lighting fixture, Gronquist always leaves behind a record of frozen yet fleeting moments charged with his own personal subjectivity. Jon Kessler (b. 1957, New York) critiques our image-obsessed, surveillance-dominated world. His machines are at once complex and lumbering, combining mechanical know-how with kitschy materials and imagery. Structurally complex and narratively engaging, Kessler’s multimedia sculptures often deliver an emotional punch beyond their humble means. With his distinct vocabulary, the artist taps into our all-too-real modern-day anxieties. Ted Lawson (b. 1970, Massachusetts) is an American artist working across all media. His work is an ongoing interrogation of the male psyche, questioning notions of institutional privilege, asymmetrical power dynamics, and the discomfort of intimacy in a world where traditional discursive relations are constantly upended and continually under siege. Characterized by a sense of hyper-compressed energy and visceral intensity approaching a state of exhaustion, Lawson frequently deploys a God’s eye POV to lure and then entrap the observer, releasing them moments later after having subjected them to his enigmatic effects. Helen Pashgian (b. 1934, California) is a pioneer and preeminent member of the California Light and Space movement. Her signature forms include columns, discs, and spheres in delicate and rich coloration, often with an isolated element suspended, embedded or encased within. Pashgian’s innovative application of industrial epoxies, plastics, and resins affect semi-translucent surfaces that simultaneously filter and contain illumination. Activated by light, these sculptures resonate in form and spatiality.

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