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WA/SA

Working 9-5, at...

[waldrip architects/ s.a.] [architecture- los angeles]

Alberti, Sandro Paradise Now, 3 Years Later; 3 August, 2003 [text35]

Evolution, breeding, and genetic modification at The Farm.

complete).

‘WA/SA’, ‘Aloha8’, and ‘Working 9 to 5, at...’

Last night I attended the traveling ‘copy’ of the ‘Paradise Now’ exhibit, at Art Center in Pasadena (it ended up that this was not only this school’s ‘original’, but actually part of THE original exhibit on the topic of genetic art in the US; it has been traveling around since 2000, when it appeared in an article of ‘Scientific American’, back when the first draft of the human genome was at last

It was a small ‘thing’ as befitting of the moderately-sized Williamson Gallery. Missing were interactive pieces displayed in New York several years ago (notably ‘Genesis’ and ‘The Human Race Machine’), as well as Ackroyd and Harvey’s famous ‘photosynthetic grass photographs’. Nevertheless, as with any contemporary-art exhibit, there were interesting tid-bits (specially interesting to see that several of the visual manipulations in this genetic-art realm have become so established-appropriated in culture, as I was able to recognize, easily, ‘the mouse with the human ear’, ‘Eduardo Kac’, and, of course, the particularity of ‘the vegetables we consume’). Outside of the gallery, drinks and food were served, while a temporary video installation showcased short videos by faculty and students.

are fictions of fen-om: [www.fen-om.com]

Pinkie as Christ-child.

Interior #5, made of human ‘exterior’.

There was, of course, the main topic, where art looks at science (particularly, biological/ genetic science), which is interesting, but there were also other things to see, in the realm of message-communication, craft, branding, and Branding: 1. In one of the videos, the co-branding of golf and Nike shoes, as aborigines do the speedy Nike-run through rocky landscape in order to catch a better glimpse of a traveling comet. At the other end of ‘town’, in conclusion, a kid practices swinging at golf balls, propelling them amazingly out of view. 2. Popcorn and Blockbuster, in another ‘short’ (that’s right, co-branding does not necessarily mean “2 market products”; it could be “a market product + a related idea”). Here, corn-kernel-headed men from some ‘French Legion’ meander in the midst of desert sands, lost and thirsty (already this alludes to the stereotypical idea of ‘film’,

Natural Selection.


which relates to ‘Blockbuster’). The odd part is the men’s popcorn heads, which, one by one, begin to pop in the desert heat. Nice, funny combo of ideas. Message communication: 1. In one of the videos, the director finds a moment that has not been exploited, but that the audience can relate to: The nostalgic vision of Pablo Picasso as a child playing at the beach, drinking Coca-Cola. Then there is the video ad for Spiderman, where you will not see even a hint of spider webs or the colors red + blue (the scene is a public rest room, where crowds of men are waiting their turn at the urinal; finally one tall guy makes it to the front, while, next to him, a trickle pours down from even higher up, beyond the top edge of the screen; “the amazing Spiderman”). 2. At the exhibit: A long series of polaroids pasted on small pieces of paper. The photographs are of various orchids, and the paper shows ‘scientific’ notes for each. Not all is at it seems. For one, here the artist is the researcher, who has raised the orchids, breeding them over many years. The result, automatic shape and color to be exhibited on a gallery wall. Also included, an ‘artistic comment’ on genetic manipulation (which is what flower breeding is, in the end). Each flower is labeled as being ‘made’ from another 2, and so the viewer becomes engaged (are the other 2 flowers also being displayed? What do they look like? What accounts for the difference between flower ‘siblings’ created from the same ‘genetic parents’? why do some of these live, and some die? Are some more beautiful than others?). To all this, the artist adds tongue-in-cheek subtext (the flower born from another called ‘Big Money’ seemed strong at first, but eventually withered away; in one part of the range, a numbered flower produces offspring with ‘Edward Kac’ while, elsewhere, there is a coupling with Kac’s wife). 3. From the exhibit: The idea that portraits don’t need to include exterior appearances or poses. Some artists are taking blood samples from their subjects and combining high-magnification views of cells in the oil paintings. 4. In one video, a scene with a violent ending (drunk-driving crash) is paralleled by a reenactment with puppets. We see the couple at the party, we see the puppets reenacting every move. We see them driving home, and the puppets follow in their convertible (behold the wind blowing through the princess’ yarn ‘hair’!). Then we see the crash entirely from the puppet point of view. The princess is broken. No need to resort to gruesome violent details. 5. An emphasis on slow, secondary times and spaces, as one of the video clips shows a rendezvous between a man and a woman, and the subsequent trip to the motel. Every possible ‘ignored moment’ is emphasized here (all of those ‘in-between’ moments that traditional narration skips over): an endless drive to the motel, with plenty of thinking-time for the ‘passionate woman’ to become ‘lady in distress’; then the very uncomfortable checking-in at the motel, where the desk clerk receives guests with corporate-office look, complete with official government ceremony playing in the background tv; and the 30-mile walking trek between the front desk and the bedroom…). Nice and slow. Craft: 1. At the exhibit, some unexpected materials are employed, such as bacterial growth samples (looks colorful and ‘modern’). ‘Interior #5’, a large scale image of an architectural interior in skin tone is actually human skin on aluminum… 2. Beautiful presentation in marble sculpture, of ‘Pinkie’, a genetically-manipulated creature. It is a fascinating trend: those works where so many man-hours and skill were employed, only to show

Genetic Portrait of Isabel Goldsmith.


a ‘minor’ representation (this is the same case as Yutaka Sone’s sculptures currently on exhibit at the Geffen Contemporary (hundreds of hours carving large white-marble sculptures of… LA freeway intersections).

Paradise Now, 3 Years Later  

The original exhibit on genetic art.

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