The works in Echelons - a title considering the multiple meanings of the word from its use in natural formation of birds, military and as the (not so) secret name of a global surveillance system - reference and position current American culture post 9/11 in the context of history, politics, mythology and religion. Ground Zero and its newly erected buildings and monuments, represented in the imagery of several works using video footage shot by Gwilliam & Sweeten as source material, is revealed as a place of worship where architecture resembles angel wings, buildings strive for the heavens, and choirs assemble.
Biblical connections are most overt in two new double-channel and ever-changing moving image works that expand upon the animated gif and browser technology of previous works including those in the duo’s exhibition “Cryptophasia” at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) in the fall of 2015. “Oculus 1 (Annunciation)” and “Oculus 2 (Assumption)” each take as their subjects the WTC transportation hub “Oculus”, a bone-white, winged-like structure with its single eye to the sky at different stages of completion. The former presents the still uncompleted structure in a momentary and seemingly animated state of suspension, while the latter collapses imagery of the finished building, shot at various angles and times of day, into a multi-tiered, durational composition suggestive of Renaissance altarpieces.
Twenty-four hour surveillance and the perceived militarization of society is the main concern of “Night Watch/Night Vision”, a new single-channel piece made with the same technology, featuring Gwilliam as an omniscient floating head adorned in the all-seeing military goggles. “Vespers”, a 6-screen video and sound installation, poses a twin character singing before an alternating background of analog video feedback combined with shots of an activated tuning fork, resampled and randomly redistributed by a computer unit over the work’s multiple channels to create a never-ending choral performance reminiscent of a song of mourning or prayer to be answered.
Completing the exhibit, are UV laminated chromogenic prints from the new series “Drones”. The abstract images composed to resemble the patterns of sound waves are made with video of the “Freedom Tower”, deconstructed and offset in time through Gwilliam’s & Sweeten’s animated gif and browser technology process to capture an unrepeatable combination of hundreds of moments of a period of time within a single image. The title of the series addresses multiple definitions of “drone”, including the unmanned aerial vehicle, a low repetitive hum, and an incantation or meditation chant.
Lisa Gwilliam and Ray Sweeten made their debut as DataSpaceTime in November 2011 with the exhibition “the optimal value for y” at Microscope Gallery. The artists use current technologies that are further developed or redirected as a means to consider the culture of informatics and the thresholds of image recognition and perception across various mediums. Gwilliam & Sweeten’s work was most recently on view in the solo exhibits “Cryptophasia” at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (Fall 2015) as part of NextWave Art, and the six-channel installation “Breakout”, commissioned by The Parrish Museum at New York City Center January through December 2015. Their work was also on view in the group shows “Day In Day Out” at geh8, Dresden, Germany (Sept – Oct 2015) and “Altarations” Schmidt Center Gallery of FAU, Boca Raton, Florida (Dec 2014 – Feb 2015). Their work has also previously appeared in “Dialogics” at Rowan University Art Gallery, New Jersey (Sept – Oct 2013) and “Engage Detroit”, Whitdel Arts Center, Detroit, Michigan (2013), among others. Gwilliam & Sweeten live and work in Brooklyn, New York.
Echelons runs from Friday January 15 through Sunday February 21, 2016. Opening reception Friday January 15, 6-9pm. Gallery Hours: Thursday through Monday, 1-6pm.
Additional information and high-res images available upon request at firstname.lastname@example.org