Critics’ Picks

Rain Is an Emotional System, 2006, multimedia installation, dimensions variable. Installation view.

Los Angeles

T. Kelly Mason

510 Bernard Street
November 25–December 23

T. Kelly Mason’s multimedia installation Rain Is an Emotional System, 2006, deploys text and sculptural materiality to structure sound, space, and concept. Beckoned by the nearly ambient patter of rain and intermittent guitar tunes resounding from suspended colored cubes, the viewer must enter Mason’s sculpture—a narrow, angular passage formed by interlocking aluminum poles draped with industrial packing blankets—to reach the video monitor at its center. There, a looped DVD transmits vague outlines of letters, which slowly form thought-provoking phrases as a raindroplike image descends from above, filling the negative space around each word. Describing musical theory, atmospheric effects, and scientific truisms, the statements prompt the viewer to consider her location in space (WHEN ONE REACHES A PARTICULAR PLACE ONE MUST IMAGINE THE PLACE—NOT SIMPLY OCCUPY THE PLACE). These textual propositions (and the sculpture’s gray-and-blue color scheme) recur on Post-it Notes arranged in a framed collage, a piece that refers back to seven collages from 1999 on view in a small adjacent gallery. Mason’s seemingly fluid stream of thought becomes ordered by the color, shape, and size of each sticky note and saying, a refrain of idioms that winds around found images. Though Mason premiered the installation at New York’s Cohan and Leslie gallery last summer, the work seems more at home in Los Angeles. Through subtle suggestions—a B-grade horror-flick lobby card featuring a rain-soaked actress; a black-and-white press photo of earth courtesy of Pasadena’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory; a nod to Neil Sedaka’s 1974 hit “Laughter in the Rain,” which was produced in Studio City—Mason speaks to the local industries that so adroitly manufacture “emotional systems.”