Critics’ Picks

Aaron Flint Jamison, Manifold to Half Matrix, 2013, letterpressed and offset printed paper, dimensions variable.

New York

Aaron Flint Jamison

Artists Space Exhibitions
38 Greene Street 3rd Floor
September 15–November 10, 2013

In Aaron Flint Jamison’s latest exhibition, a LiDAR room scanner on a tripod connects to a wired network switch that the artist has built into a table of dense purpleheart wood. The table supports a closed handmade book and an LED spotlight that shines its heatless light on the table’s surface. The network switch connects to a classic IBM ThinkPad X40 and to a large server rack that is built into a mausoleum-like cube, also made of purpleheart. Inside, a “glory hole” cylinder rotates within a lit chamber that is partially hidden behind half-mirrored glass, which is copied in a wall-mounted glass work nearby. The deluxe hardwood makes the sparse show feel weirdly opulent.

The CAT 5 network cable was once omnipresent in our daily lives. Here, carrying a hyperdetailed rendering of the room’s space from the LiDAR to the network switch of server-cum-mausoleum, it feels nearly sentimental and causes the empty space of the exhibition to seem cumbersomely physical, like thinking through the idea of Wifi backward to arrive at its antithesis. By gathering information about the room, the LiDAR also calls out architectural and sculptural conversations about “space” by going stubbornly and excessively empirical. And yet, silently vanishing into a puzzle-vault, the LiDAR’s data is as mysterious and numinous backed up as it is a lived, spatial experience.

These constant reversals—from the dense physicality of rare hardwood to invisible, eye-safe lasers, from the intangible to brutishly opulent corporeality, between knowing and unknowing—are a key Jamison move. From his early lightbulb performances (Which Side Are You On?, 2007) to his recent book works, Veneer Magazine, and even the pamphlet that accompanies this show, Jamison builds incredible hermetic density into relationships between things. This makes even summarizing this sparse show a challenge. That these man-made objects have a life of their own, independent of human goals and desires, is a telling portrait of the way systems of knowledge now run themselves—a parallel world alongside our human one that Jamison is able to open to us in all its dazzling complexity.