Critics’ Picks

Laurent Montaron, Everything We Can Describe Could Be Something Else, 2014, ink-jet print on rag cotton, 47 x 56".

Laurent Montaron, Everything We Can Describe Could Be Something Else, 2014, ink-jet print on rag cotton, 47 x 56".

Rome

Laurent Montaron

Monitor | Rome
via Sforza Cesarini 43a Palazzo Sforza Cesarini
February 27–May 10, 2014

Laurent Montaron examines reality, essentially relying on two investigative systems. One consists of the direct observation of physical and chemical conditions in the natural world; the other considers technological systems, particularly those of the recent past, and their capacity to mechanically reproduce those natural conditions with precision. Through his highly structured typology of works, Montaron visually and acoustically explicates his research. Consistently informing the artist’s creative process, which exists halfway between scientific studies and alchemical formulas, the nature-technology duality occurs in the four pieces, all 2014, on view. One room is dedicated to his film Nature of the Self, in which a sequence of scenes depicting exteriors and interiors, lightness and darkness, is accompanied by a voice that recites a text on themes of identity and human consciousness. In an adjacent room, two photographic prints titled Everything We Can Describe Could Be Something Else, play with the ambiguity of images and our perception of them (the artist’s hands appear like ghosts among the keys of an old synthesizer). Next to these, How Can One Hide from That Which Never Sets? also reflects on principles of vision. A geometric volume enclosed in glass contains a mirror at an oblique angle cut in half, which allows viewers both to see their own reflection and, at the same time, to look beyond. It was created according to a process conceived by Justus von Liebig in 1835 that calls for a thin layer of silver instead of the usual mixture of mercury and tin used to generate reflective surfaces. Behind it, a neon light brings attention to the mirror’s peculiar backside layer. The superimposition of these elements and their hybrid consistency encourage one’s eyes to move continually, once again eliciting questions about the function of the glance and the physical or mental terms for defining it.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.