Critics’ Picks

  • Pierre Huyghe, Mind's Eye (L), 2021, synthetic and biological material aggregate, microorganisms, generative adversarial network software, and 3-D printing materials (glass, synthetic resin, silicone, copper alloy, colophonium, minerals, bone, calcium, protein, sodium, sugar, agar-agar, bacteria), 39 x 69 x 32".

    Pierre Huyghe, Mind's Eye (L), 2021, synthetic and biological material aggregate, microorganisms, generative adversarial network software, and 3-D printing materials (glass, synthetic resin, silicone, copper alloy, colophonium, minerals, bone, calcium, protein, sodium, sugar, agar-agar, bacteria), 39 x 69 x 32".

    New York

    “The Poet-Engineers”

    Miguel Abreu Gallery | Eldridge Street
    88 Eldridge Street 4th Floor

    Miguel Abreu Gallery | Orchard Street
    36 Orchard Street
    June 9–September 25, 2021

    In the accompanying reader for “The Poet-Engineers,” an eighteen-person exhibition installed across both of this gallery’s locations, the equation “idea = question = problem = riddle” is used as a way to understand how the artworks in this show—created with advanced software, innovative fabrication techniques, and novel materials—have come to fruition. Here, invention doesn’t lead to the production of new things as such but rather, as philosopher Reza Negarestani writes in his essay for the reader, of “better visions and versions,” objects and notions that “remix, recognize and revision what we think as past, present or future.”

    At the Eldridge Street branch is Yuji Agematsu’s 11.01.18 . . . 11.30.18, 2018, a wood-and-plastic shelf that features tiny bits of litter arranged in cellophane cigarette wrappers that the artist gathered during a month’s worth of daily walks throughout New York. This archive of price tags, foil scraps, candy, and other bits of detritus, which are fixed in place with small dollops of resin, is a document of temporal construction, measuring, and decay. Also in this space is Pierre Huyghe’s Mind's Eye (L), 202. For this piece, the artist asked various people to think of something—animals, prehistoric tools—while their brains were being scanned by an fMRI. The data was then fed into a deep-learning software program (a generative adversarial network, or GAN) that tried to reproduce the original mental picture. The resulting work calls to mind a huge mineral that’s giving birth to a decomposing, gelatinous protrusion.

    In the smaller Orchard Street showroom sits American Artist’s Server Rack (for Pigford), 2021, a black wooden box with green twine that resembles a handmade combination hay-baling machine and database server. The work references both the movement of white, West Coast tech capitalists to the Midwest (a movement reminiscent of Silicon Valley’s usurpation of a part of California that was once home to the state’s fruit industry) and the denial of loans to Black farmers by the USDA, which has resulted in the federal agency’s being slapped with “the largest civil rights lawsuit in the history of the United States,” according to the artist. “The crafting of an outside view of our existing world by playing . . . with its rules and constraints is tantamount to creating a different world or world-version,” says Negarestani. Such worlds—powerful, peculiar, poetic—suffuse this thoughtfully conceived presentation.