“All Watched Over” at James Cohan Gallery, New York
Doug Ashford, Shannon Ebner, Iman Issa, Josh Kline, KRIWET, Paul Laffoley, Margaret Lee, Nonggirrnga Marawili, Lee Mullican, Brenna Murphy, Michael Portnoy, Michael Riedel, Gabriel Sierra, and Roman Št?tina
Richard Brautigan’s poem All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace, written in 1967 while he was poet-in-residence at the California Institute of Technology, anticipates an ecosystem where animal, human, and machine live in harmony with nature. Freed from the constraints of labor and balanced by cybernetic feedback mechanisms that regulate and sustain life, the humans in Brautigan’s short poem flourish in a naturalistic techno-utopia. Years later, acclaimed documentary journalist Adam Curtis appropriated Brautigan’s title when he aired a BBC television series under the same name in 2011. From the standpoint of the recent past, Curtis’s wide-reaching documentary analyses the vicissitudes of the postmodern techno-utopia Brautigan alludes to in his poem. In his signature style, Curtis argues that computers have failed to be the great liberators they were once purported to be.
With the promise of a cybernetic techno-utopia as its backdrop, this exhibition brings together a group of artists who apply systems to and in their work. Across a diversity of practices and cultures, the dominant theme in “All Watched Over” is art in the form of information processing and its diagramming. Set against today’s data-processed landscape, the artworks in “All Watched Over” transform data into hidden messages, ciphers, unifying theories, complex diagrams, and personal or cultural cosmologies. As such, subjects of encoding and encryption percolate in a number of works on view; they manifest as algorithmic or systemic codes on the one hand, and through abstraction and the optical experience of language on the other.
Curated by Tina Kukielski
until 7 August 2015
KRIWET, Comic Strip, 1970
Paul Laffoley, Alchemy: The Telenomic Process of the Universe, 1973
Michael Riedel, Untitled (Form), 2014
Lee Mullican, Untitled, n.d.
Iman Issa, Devotees (Study for 2014), 2014
Shannon Ebener, Electric Comma Four, 2013
Brenna Murphy, SunriseSequence, 2015
“All Watched Over” installation view at James Cohan Gallery, New York, 2015
Courtesy: James Cohan Gallery, New York; Marc Selwyn Fine Art, Beverly Hills; David Zwirner, New York/London; BQ Berlin, Berlin; Kent Fine Art, New York; Rodeo Gallery, Istanbul; Wallspace, New York and American Medium, New York.