Alan Rath

Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (MCA Chicago)

Alan Rath’s techo-kunst is best when it is most determinedly misanthropic; a dystopian glimmer reveals the veneer of high-tech electronic logic to be simply more complex trappings of human inanity. His machines call us like sirens, with an almost inaudible hum, as they go about their business. Several of Rath’s sculptures are decidedly user-unfriendly, forcing our physical interaction in this Orwellian nightmare. In You Can Make a Difference, 1988, a work that positively drips with venom, the viewer climbs a few steps, peers through a telescope at a monitor some forty feet away, and presses a button. A 12-digit display number on the screen is advanced by one, and a peppy “Thank you!” appears beneath it. You climb down, vaguely annoyed at having made no difference—at having punched in and been reduced to the state of a complacent and complicit digit advancer. Control, 1989, invites a similar

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