Critics’ Picks

Alex Hubbard, Projector 1, 2018, LED monitor, coated lenses, urethane, LED light bulbs, lighting transformer, Plexiglas, bellow, tables, plinth, digital video (color, silent, 10 minutes 31 seconds).

Los Angeles

Alex Hubbard

Gaga, Los Angeles
2228 W 7th St 2nd floor (entrance on S. Grand View St.)
February 12–March 23, 2019

In his current exhibition, “Projectors,” Alex Hubbard synthesizes the aesthetic and conceptual themes that have informed his work in two films: Projector 1 and Projector 2, both 2019, recall Stan Brakhage’s hand-painted moving images and are screened from projectors built by Hubbard.

As with much of Hubbard’s oeuvre, these new pieces thematize light and dissolve the boundary between abstraction and figuration. The shorter work, Projector 2, is a kaleidoscopic collage of turquoise and ruby. Bright, dazzling specks of color stand out against the diffuse background to evoke the sense of being underwater, looking through a prism, or seeing particles of dust illuminated in a beam of light. Strips of light and shadow appear and disappear in a staccato rhythm. Hubbard rotates the frame every minute or two, and an arm periodically interjects, drawing attention to inchoate forms that suggest raindrops, stringed instruments, and swimming fish.

Dominated by vivid greens and reds, Projector 1 is Hubbard’s quirky take on the still life. Over the course of ten and a half minutes, it depicts, among other things, an issue of OK! magazine, a liquor bottle, and a metronome whose swaying arm has a hypnotic effect, reducing the surrounding items to zones of grainy color. The artist plays with surface and depth in both the content and structure of his films; here, wisps of smoke conjure space in a visual field flattened by unnatural illumination and a skewed perspective.

Though easy to overlook in the darkened gallery, the bulky handmade projectors are impressively sculptural and demonstrate the artist’s attentiveness to process and materiality—even in works made from light and shadow.