In the off-season of an Italian Ice storefront, Ian Gerson opened Travel Valley, a mock travel agency. In a number of works, Gerson has performed in drag as Connie O’Nassis, a fantastic, if sassy, tour guide. More recently, he's foregone explicit guidance for more illuminating meditative experiences. Gerson’s latest work at Tomato House in Ocean Hill, Brooklyn, Future Floor, extends travel and exploration as primary functions of the work.
Behind the gallery’s temporarily translucent blue façade rests Gerson’s installation: a ship docked and inviting that reaches from wall to wall and looks as ready to lift off into the ether as it does on the precipice of sinking into the crushing depths of the sea. Gerson tells The Creators Project that the ship is meant to represent a “human need to catalog or conquer these natural spaces.”
Pitched walls protrude from the floor and ceiling and in the dark of the ship, illuminated by unseen backlights, the abstract control and instrument panels cut into nearly every surface glow. Though made largely of cardboard and construction paper, Gerson has worked some sleuth into the ship so that some panels appear to change color and pulse in the relative quiet of the space.
A great rectangular hole cut into the floor of the ship has been filled with water that successfully creates the illusion of infinite depth and floats liter bottles of tonic (quinine glows under black lights). Neon plastic discs that look as much like irradiated fish or those great deep sea creatures, anglerfish, that are well known as carriers of their own sources of light, as the indecipherable pieces of colorful plastic that float around in the oceans.
“Oceans,” Gerson says, “are a place where we project some fictionalized reality but they also exist in relationship to us; they take up most of our planet but feel distinct and removed.” The ship is a way to be immersed in the ocean and in the sometimes-beautiful trash that is an inalienable part of our world.
Gerson is particularly interested in how being in nature can effect people, and has used light and shape to orient would-be travelers in the space. His techniques replicate the acceleration of mind-altering club aesthetics and the pleasant disorientation of ocean travel where even the horizon. If Marie Lorenz and Mark Dion are touchstones for Gerson’s work they are only in so far as they are inflected by Sun Ra’s Arkestra.
Future Floor. Interior view (detail)
Ian Gerson's Future Floor was on display at Tomato House from July 10 - August 9, 2015. Click here for more from the artist.