The effects of technology can be felt pulsing through the veins of the New Museum's 2015 Triennial: Surround Audience. The exhibition, which opens today, brings together the work of 51 early-career artists from 25 different countries, including Josh Kline, Oliver Laric, and Juliana Huxtable, under the curation of Lauren Cornell and Ryan Trecartin.
"Many of the works in the show look really closely at our present moment, a time when culture has become more porous and encompassing," explained Cornell. "The metaphor that Ryan [Trecartin] and I use is, 'Surrounded.'" The works included are the results of artists' deep thinking about political and social issues, some dealing with contemporary expressions of gender and self-identification, and others with "current manifestations of centuries-old issues," but almost all of them addressing the changing nature of reality through new devices. Said New Museum Director Lisa Phillips, "Technology has changed all of our lives so dramatically, and really changed how art is being made, too."
While headline-grabbing headset Oculus Rift was confined to Daniel Steegmann Mangrané's Phantom, a work that immersed wearers in a black-and-white 3D forest, one technology could be seen throughout the five-floor show: 3D printing. Josh Kline used it to make props for a room he filled with giant sculptures of riot police with Teletubby faces and an HD video that reimagines an idealized Obama speech. Casey Jane Ellison 3D-printed a USB containing a copy of her 3D-modeled stand-up comedy video, IT'S SO IMPORTANT TO SEEM WONDERFUL, which reads like Dalí confessionals by way of Drinking Out of Cups. For Juliana (as seen above), Frank Benson additively manufactured a to-scale, iridescent, and anatomically-correct odalisque of Juliana Huxtable.
In SOHO (Substances of Human Origin), Aleksandra Domanović's mixed-medium installation housed inside hanging plastic shower curtains, the artist 3D-printed so-called Belgrade Hands, robotic prostheses that feature heavily in the sci-fi-horror film, Demon Seed, and affixed them a wall. London-born artist Eloise Hawser, whose work involves repurposing industrial materials and production processes, used digital files and found lithographic plates and sculpted them into objects which look like what might happen if you threw a still-warm 3D print into a compactor.
Said Trecartin, who appeared in the New Museum's 2009 inaugural triennial, Younger Than Jesus, "This show is kind of a Venn-diagram of where [Lauren and my] interests overlap. […] Eventually it involved thinking about how a lot of the artists we were interested in are also curators or doing things in the world, and the art world had to be a place they were using to jump off into new things that aren't necessarily their main focus." The duo decided to turn the New Museum into more of a space for opportunity "than a place where things are taken and put into."
Overall, the New Museum's 2015 Triennial: Surround Audience offers a cross-section of young artists pushing the bounds of their respective fields. Highlights include Nadim Abbas' Chamber installations, cement quarantine rooms with two sets of rubber gloves each that allow interaction between the outside world and the bedroom sets inside, Antoine Catala's Distant Feel, a live fish tank filled with corals wrapped around giant letters that spell "E3," Peter Wächtler's HCL H264, an eerie 2012 stop-motion that depicts a set of crutches walking down a dark corridor, The Island (KEN), a surreal six-head shower installation created by DIS, Avery Singer's Untitled acrylic-on-canvas works which look like flatbed-printed 3D environments, but were actually spraypainted by hand, and props from Eduardo Navarro's Timeless Alex, an upcoming performance that will feature artist Jennifer Sullivan moving through Central Park at slow speeds while wearing sculpted models of the face, skin, and shell of a Galapagos tortoise.
Casey Jane Ellison, one of four artists in the show who was born in 1988, when asked whether or not her youth gives her an advantage for future museum exhibitions, summed up Surround Audience with a simple reply: "One triennial at a time."
2015 Triennial: Surround Audience is on display at the New Museum through May 24, 2015.