Critics’ Picks

View of “ELEMENTALISTHMUS,” 2013.

View of “ELEMENTALISTHMUS,” 2013.

San Diego

Scoli Acosta

Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego | Downtown
1100 and 1001 Kettner Boulevard
February 3–June 23, 2013

“ELEMENTALISTHMUS” is a paean to geography. Amalgamating film, percussive instruments, and atmosphere, Scoli Acosta’s audile sculptures depict landscapes of unworldly places. In Field recording (elements), 2012, a media assemblage trails the artist’s trek through Morocco as he captures winds, murmurs, and music on 45 rpm. In an accompanying video, a kite glides amidst rugged hills; tethered to the needle of a portable recorder, its towline transfers vibrations caused by wind onto vinyl, yielding the breezy sonance heard echoing through the gallery. In concert, an overhead speaker emits traditional North African melodies with interrupting clamors of a busy bazaar and 1930s tunes adverting to exotic travel. From this auditory affray, a lurid portrayal of scenography emerges.

The constellation of five-sided Moroccan tambourines in Mars Triptych, 2012, models the solar system; the instruments also evoke a 1967 protest at the Pentagon wherein Yippee leader Abbie Hoffman aimed to telepathically vibrate the building with drum beats and psychic force in order to end the Vietnam War and shake its occupants out of what seemed to be a hypnotic penchant for endless war and ecological decimation. During Sissyeyes, 2006, a video compilation, bucolic clips from Terrence Malick’s 1973 film, Badlands flash between close-ups of Sissy Spacek, whose doe eyes peer out from an Islamic headdress. A fuzzy score again serves as accompaniment. Drawn from deep-space probe Cassini-Huygens’s radio transmissions, the track reveals an unbroken chain of particles around Saturn, exposing the planet’s trompe l’oeil rings as extensive dust fields.