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Sara Ludy

bitforms gallery
131 Allen Street
January 7, 2016–February 7, 2016

Sara Ludy, Low Prim Room, 2012–16, video, sand, rosewood, tassel, coins, dimensions variable.

For users of the online virtual-reality platform Second Life, “low prim” signifies an object or room that contains little graphic information. While a strict economy of detail frees up three-dimensional real estate, it also amplifies a pervasive, unsettling quality of virtual spaces and, as Sara Ludy dramatizes in her work, of contemporary life in general—that of the “digital uncanny.” As we kill lots of people in first-person shooter games or make floor plans for new furniture on our phones, we embrace the unheimlich as a necessary discomfort. Ludy provocatively applies the ancient philosophical principles of feng shui as a possible remedy.

The prevailing mood in the gallery is one of uneasy quiet. Low Prim Room, 2012–16, is a spare, shrine-like installation at the exhibition’s start. A grid of twelve images—material from Ludy’s ongoing archive of the Internet’s uncanny—is projected on a wall recessed behind an empty sand garden and a ledge displaying a ball of twiggy rosewood entangled with a little red tassel and coins. The piece is blankly mesmerizing: aesthetically calculated but symbolically cryptic. In the more beautiful Rose, 2015, a feather flower and a zigzagging path of iridescent beads lead to a hypnotic animation of a milky, constantly morphing orb on the black wall behind them. Whether such disconcerting, elegant arrangements improve the flow of chi is perhaps beside the point: Ludy’s striking work asks what feng shui could mean now, when physical space is haunted by its virtual original and life online is simply life.

Johanna Fateman