Critics’ Picks

View of “On Pleasure Bent,” 2013.

Los Angeles

Mark Leckey

Hammer Museum
10899 Wilshire Boulevard
August 31 - December 8

Whether he’s revealing the interior monologue of a refrigerator or assembling “dumb things” for museological treatment, Mark Leckey’s work recognizes the animism that technology bestows upon objects. For the exhibition “On Pleasure Bent,” Leckey pays extra attention to the underlying processes that enable things to come alive, such as binary code, electricity, and the RGB color model. This new body of work, created in conjunction with his residency at the Hammer Museum, connects the operations of these foundational supports to the parallel flow and mutability of images in the digital era.

In the darkness of the main gallery, shadowy images of the moon or a slowly moving face grace the surface of LED RGB screens. With titles like Transfigured, Transiting, and Transformer, all 2013, Leckey attaches significant weight to the prefix “trans.” The four large cardboard transmission towers circling the room, which intermittently broadcast the sounds of spliced vocal tracks through their hidden speakers, further this effort. Together, the viewer encounters a theater of conduits, for light or electrical power.

The entrance to the exhibition showcases green-screen painted walls, a reference to video compositing, setting the tone for the remaining works: a trailer for Leckey’s upcoming film, also named On Pleasure Bent, 2013, and the video Pearl Vision, 2012. Leckey’s unconscious sifts through information overload in the former, a poetic, kaleidoscopic memoir comprised of images from pop culture that are personally significant to the artist. Pearl Vision co-opts the high-definition gloss of commercial advertising as a reminder of the continuous manipulation of images, which are always already data. The video begins with a shot of fingers on a keyboard typing “RUN” before cutting to a drummer methodically following the rhythm of a voice repeating the phrase, “On, Off” an allusion to the “On, Off” commands of binary code’s 0s and 1s. Leckey’s score forefronts the computer’s most basic building block, a gesture that summons the role of logical functions beneath the strange, almost magical, appearance of things.