Complexity theory holds the idea that emergence, or self-organization, is possible within large complex systems. A self-organizing system is defi ned by spontaneous emergence of new forms of order. Structure freely emerges from within the internal interactions of the system itself: “free order” within chaos. Paradoxically, this theory opposes the idea that systems are computational or algorithmic, including the human brain. Unlike a computer, once our brains have learned a set of rules, we cannot repeat exactly, only recall, learn, and improvise upon those rules. In devised theatre, a troupe takes cues from one another and collude a script as they perform. As decisions are made intuitively, actions are solidifi ed; each individual responds to the decision once it is written into the script. Raúl de Nieves, David Roesing, and Sofi a Leiby’s works propose interactions with information and cultural infrastructure via improvised choreography, creating self-organized systems which emerge organically and fractal-like by establishing internal validity, mimicking these phenomena.
In 1952, Alan Turing theorized the “reaction-diffusion system” which presented the possibility of novel shapes and gradients – patterns – in natural forms. It worked mathematically, but had no real biological basis, except, most promisingly, in follicle formation in mice. Raúl de Nieves directly engages with biological systems and their unpredictable relationship to culture, pattern, belief and death. He presents a weathered matrix of plastic orbs resembling a cosmologist’s depiction of the multiverse and a complex, scintillating assemblage of embellished organic crystalline forms are embedded with found objects, engaging the history of ornamentation and its relationship to death and celebration in Aztec and tribal cultures.
Sofia Leiby’s work addresses the history of psychological analytic methods wherein the subject is asked to make a drawing in response to a set of pre-determined marks on a page. Leiby combines “stimulus” marks from these rigid, copyrighted and still widely used exams, and samples of fi lledout tests with her own hand-drawn gestures using screen printing. Elsewhere, children’s dry-erase placemats presenting graphics prescribing learning techniques provide fertile ground for painterly experiments.
David Roesing’s work draws on the language of the diagram to create a glut of information and narrative implication using the language of public presentation using theatrical versions of public conversations, self help slogans, and identifi cation-ready cartoons. In this exhibition, an oil painting, a bolted collection of files, a dry erase board, LED bulbs diagrams, international wireless adoption data, and a vaguely American elephant anchor an internal conversation about efficiency, longing, and touch.
The works in A Dance That Describes sit along a spectrum; with orchestration on one end and improvisation on the other. These artists pull from our culture’s visual efemera to form an accumulation of the expressive, intuitive, coded and symbolic - channeling what is observed and what is made visible.
Raúl de Nieves (b. Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico, 1983) is a multi-media artist, performer, and musician based in Brooklyn, New York. His body of work encompasses narrative painting, decadent multimedia performance (often with his band Haribo), large-scale figurative sculpture, live music, ornamentally crafted shoes, and garments. De Nieves has exhibited widely, including at Mendes Wood DM (Sao Paulo), MoMA Ps1, The Museum of Art and Design, Rod Bianco (Oslo), Shoot the Lobster, and elsewhere. He has also performed at Artists Space, BOFFO, The Kitchen, MoMA Ps1, Performa 13, Real Fine Arts, and numerous other venues. In 2015 he was included in Ps1’s Greater New York.
Sofia Leiby (b. 1989, St. Paul, Minnesota) is an artist based in New York. Recent solo exhibitions include ‘Thinking Creatively With Pictures’ at Clifton Benevento, NYC and abcdefghijklmnop at Michael Jon & Alan, Miami. Group exhibitions include 247365 (NYC); Joe Sheftel (NYC); Future Gallery (Berlin); and LOYAL (Stockholm). She has contributed writing to BOMB Magazine and Rhizome.org.
David Roesing (b. 1985, Washington, D.C.) lives and works in Brooklyn, has shown in New York and Los Angeles, and recently received his MFA from the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College.