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Review: Influxx, Triptix and Peripheral Recognition

D. Eric Bookhardt on new works by Jason Childers, Wendell Brunious and Susan Bowers



You are being watched. Whether it's by the National Security Agency, Google or Facebook, our every move is electronically stalked. The pervasive digital surveillance apparatus known as Big Data is the subject of Susan Bowers' new clay sculpture show at May Gallery. Clay is a very traditional medium, but Bowers' head sculptures of zombie-like G-Men in shades (pictured) perfectly evoke Big Data's paranoia-inducing omnipresence. Encircling an installation that resembles a surreal evidence locker filled with mutant clay beasts, haunted appliances and giant hypodermic needles, these FBI guys look like virtual investigators ready to seize your phone and email records at a moment's notice. The clay objects they guard suggest a digital Dr. Frankenstein's attempt to create a diabolical alternate reality where the world around us is constantly mutating, so mass disorientation reigns. It's a metaphor for today's digitally and genetically engineered world. Bowers may have struck a nerve.

Jason Childers' neatly framed drug and grocery store receipts arranged floor to ceiling at the UNO Gallery suggest an intention to ennoble the ordinary, or maybe a hoarder's last-ditch attempt to clean up his act. Reminiscent of old-time conceptual art tropes, this mostly works, perhaps because Walgreens and Rouses receipts are something to which we all can relate. Wendell Brunious' nearby jazzy, colorful abstract canvases deploy familiar pop art references in the form of vintage advertising graphics and comic strip figures mingled with complex painterly geometry. Rendered in bright, brisk colors reminiscent of 1960s pop culture, these sliced-and-diced compositions also recall the way 21st century technology seems to turn everything into a replica of itself, like digital ghosts haunting the global electronic echo chamber. Underlying all this is a chromatic compositional flair like a kind of latter-day visual bebop, urban rhapsodies cobbled from colorful scraps of everyday life.

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