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Juan Downey, Information Withheld, 1983, still from a color video, 28 minutes 27 seconds. From the series “The Thinking Eye,” 1974–89.

Juan Downey

MIT List Visual Arts Center

Juan Downey, Information Withheld, 1983, still from a color video, 28 minutes 27 seconds. From the series “The Thinking Eye,” 1974–89.

Juan Downey’s video Plato Now, 1973, combines footage of the artist’s early-1970s performance-installations with studio images, often shot through water. A motif that runs throughout his work, water’s many potentialities—to flow, to mark time, to distort whatever is beyond or submerged within it, to signal its own mediating presence via ripples on its surface, and to reflect its viewer—echo the layered aims of this Chilean-born artist, whose formal training in architecture, abiding interest in cybernetics, and quixotic faith in combating late-capitalist alienation through technologies both high and low were readily apparent in this, his posthumous and first stateside retrospective. Curator Valerie Smith used Downey’s concept of “invisible architecture” (which his notebooks describe as “the understandment [sic] of energy and the manipulation of this wave-material”) as a

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