Since necessity is the mother of invention, we'll all be exercising more creativity in the future. Mother Nature has cut our oil allowance, raising prices on everything oil-related (or just "everything," for short), and the reuse/recycle/repurpose culture of greenies and do-it-yourselfers will soon be mainstream; remember TV's MacGyver and his miracles with duct tape and Swiss Army knife? Bricolage, the construction of artwork from found materials, has been part of Modernist practice since Cubists added string, paper, and wood to their collages. We are all about to become bricoleurs, latter-day Robinson Crusoes — albeit with PDA Man Fridays. The computer-assisted works of Christopher Loomis and Jeff Eisenberg at Swarm Gallery both embody this cultural/technological shift and depict it.
Loomis writes: "I mine the world for materials that typically live in one world but adapt easily to others. Each work I build develops out of the structural and visual qualities of the materials themselves." "Untitled (Bench)" is an elegant assemblage of gracefully curved oak flooring strips turned edge-up and clamped in the middle, resembling a butterfly. A larger bench, "Rest," is a polygonal snake fashioned of recycled oak barrels naturally stained light and dark, lending an intarsia effect. While the spindle shapes of "Clump" humorously suggest mating cactuses, Loomis' handmade clocks, unsynchronized, and suspended all around the gallery, suggest both time's relativity and its implacability.
Eisenberg's graphite drawings depict "imagined DIY architecture that mash-up different living conditions and life style solutions." Combining childhood memories of building experiments (one neighbor was something of a naive artist) with impressions of the Roman Forum and Colosseum and the bric-a-brac of rural Wisconsin, Eisenberg's meticulously rendered hybrid buildings conjoin logs (their dark cores like leads, suggesting giant prehistoric pencils), planks, lath, sheetrock, stone, plywood, brick, cable, fiberglass, carpeting, tar paper, baseboard molding, and branches. They're like fantastic playground structures built from ruins, or jerry-rigged shelters, but their underlying visual logic is undeniable. They resemble Surrealist contraptions — Kay Sage's for example — but without the melancholy lighting: instead, evenly lit like CAD renderings, they're diagrams for our new "colliding and congealing realities."
Also being shown in the Project Room is John Casey's wordplay-inspired installation, Picket Fencing, which imagines hulking cartoon kids, funny/monstrous self-portraits, pillaging fences for their swordplay — Goya's mad bludgeoning duo updated for Fox Kids. Improvised Territory runs through June 22 at Swarm Gallery (560 2nd Street, Oakland). SwarmGallery.com or 510-839-2787.
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