The two artists in the front show, Adjunct Appendages, are Ellen Ziegler and Kim Van Someren. For several years, Ziegler has been working primarily with vermilion pigment and experimenting with its application. Her most typical works are on large sheets of thick paper blotted with blobs of vermilion, which Ziegler then gives dimension by adding a network of white lines using transfer paper.
Ziegler likes to limit the media while varying the form, and her recent works resemble a rete seen under magnification. The overlaying white lines are thicker and they more explicitly suggest a tubular shape. One diptych juxtaposes vermillion on one side and cobalt green on the other. It seems fitting enough to a former biology major like myself: red arteries to the left, bluish veins to the right. Ziegler says she may be drifting from vermillion to cobalt for a while.
Kim Van Someren’s work is much lighter on the pigment. Pale silkscreening and gampi paper overlay and soften the precise, stratified line work of her prints. She gets these fine lines by using an engraving needle on plexiglass. (The softer material wears faster when pulled through a press, so the prints come in very limited editions.) She also collages polygonal cuts from prints into unique pieces. The white gaps between fragments in the collages give the finished works a more defined structure. They look more like three-dimensional objects crushed onto the paper.
The play of crazed lines and dimension isn’t the only thing uniting these two artists’ work. What is apparent in both (and what Ziegler has stated explicitly) is an openness to happy accidents in the process. The work is not generated at random, nor is it perfectly planned. In the case of SPACEFILLER’s work at back, the possibilities are placed in the hands of the viewer.
Those who attended The Henry Art Gallery’s Mercury Ball late last winter got a taste of SPACEFILLER’s complex visualizations. The duo (Alex Miller and Alex Nagy) have spent this year expanding on their techniques from both a commercial and fine arts angle. ALGOPLEX II fits in the latter.
In essence, ALGOPLEX II is just a fun, experimental visualizer. Visitors can toggle through eight modes using a button the control box. Each mode has different parameters and the six knobs on the controls will achieve different effects. It isn’t immediately apparent what each knob does, so you have to toy with it to figure out the rules.
The screen on which it all projects is quite unique, and was inspired by the duo’s visit to a converted shipping container. It is a grid of compartments shaped like the hollow of a pyramid. The precise keystoning programmed into the visualizer works beautifully with the faceted surface; everything is perfectly aligned, but the surface glows with reflected light in a way that flat screen never could.
Some of the modes make this more apparent than others: streams of light tethered to the nadir of each compartment squirm like worms or spew dashes of light sinuously across the screen; a tessellated field of triangles glimmers and fluxes with the spin of a knob; eruptions of light chase tiny dots hovering in the darkness, looking like chain lightning.
Where The Lines Intersect
“Walking Fort,” by Kim Van Someren. Drypoint, editioned print. Image courtesy of Bridge Productions.
After playing in the dark with ALGOLPLEX II, you have to walk back through the gallery to leave. The works of Van Someren and Ziegler already imply movement, but they buzz a little more noticeably on the return trip. This is true for anyone, I think, but especially those whose eyes may not be as trained to read still images.
I have a special fondness for art exhibits that teach or remind people how to look at art, how to use one’s eyes to the fullest. Video and installation art is particularly good for this task, especially in combination with still imagery. The recent Sofie Knijff exhibit was another example of this. This strategy only works when the through lines exist between the pieces, and the trifecta that Sharon Arnold assembled for this show seems unlikely at first, but is perfect in execution.
See the works yourself during Georgetown Art Attack on Saturday, November 11 or during gallery hours. Note: The gallery space is unmanned, but guests need only ring the buzzer and someone will come open the door. Adjunct Appendages and ALGOPLEX II are on display through December 1 at Hoedemaker Pfeiffer Gallery (6109 13th Avenue South Seattle, WA 98108). Read more and get gallery hours on the website.