Signals_Now_ Review

Rochester Contemporary Art Center (ROCO) in collaboration with Signal Culture, a new experimental media art organization based in New York State, are showing:

 Signals_Now_    At ROCO until November 17, 2013

This is an exhibit of four multimedia artists, who have shown their work nationally and internationally: Phillip StearnsPeer Bode, Kristin Lucas, and Joe McKay.

Signals_Now_ comments on how digital media (i.e., internet, Twitter, computer games) have become now completely integrated with our everyday lives and reveal the human conditions of: death, renewal, communication, and perception.

“Heliocentrism” by Phillip Stearns

Heliocentrism by Phillip Stearns, Video Projection 2013

“Heliocentrism” by Phillip Stearns, Video Projection 2013

Photo Provided by ROCO

Visitors can sit at a bench and experience this 20 minutes sound sculpture installation. The sculpture starts at the same place it ends. It starts with a complete white screen and no sound, eventually more colors and a buzzing sound appears. The circle of very vibrant white light seems to be stationary and the arc moves toward the circle. When the arch and circle are touching each other, their colors become very vibrant, almost wild; then the arch descends slowly to its original quiet place. I loved the spiritual quality. This piece is very hypnotic because of the slow movement and buzzing sound. Heliocentrism is reminiscent to James Turrell’s sculptures of light and perception. Stearns says “Everything revolves around everything else”. He states that this piece “It’s not about process or content, or even that it’s a complete fabrication. While that does play some role it’s definitively more a comment about techno-media-centrism in a veiled sense, and how words are revealed to us, not directly through media, but through our perceptions as shaped by media”. This sculpture successfully shows that it is through our perceptions of an idea shaped by the media as something spiritual and hypnotic, that we blindly follow the idea.

In  “Cure: Papa’s Kino” Peer Bode uses a self-portrait to show that “Papas Kino is tot ” (“papa’s cinema is dead”) a phrase associated with New German Cinema of the 60’s and 70’s in rejection of more traditional film. Bode’s two self-portraits, one of these upside down, are shown in two monitors. The images are first in color and then go to black and white and through many stages of disintegration, finally completely decaying. Painting a very sad and truthful picture of the death film.

“Refresh” is a performance art piece by Kristin Lucas. This work takes place in an actual courtroom. This work is presented with an audio of the court proceedings and with visual images. Lucas goes to great lengths, back and forth with the judge trying to convince him that she should change her name from Kristine Sue Lucas to Kristin Sue Lucas. She tells the judge that she sees this as an act of rebirth, and renewal, and if she gets this change she will be a different person. The judge adamant that this is not a change and is not sure that he can do this change, because it is not a change. Finally the judge adjourns the court to another date, because he has to think about it. When the court reconvenes after two weeks there is a very candid resolution to this and I especially like what the judge says to Lucas.

Joe McKay’s “Tweetagraph” is a telegraph wired to send tweeter messages instead of telegraphs.  “Tweetagraph 1” is in the current interactive exhibit Sound in Space in conjunction with  Soundings: A Contemporary Score  in MOMA, NYC. “Tweetagraph 2” is here in ROCO’S current Signals_Now_ exhibit. Visitors in both exhibits are given a Morse code guide and instructions on how to play and can converse with each other. This is an interactive game that requires participation of the audience. It takes a little getting used to the timing of the dots and dashes, but once you get the rhythm it works.


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