Paris

View of “Artie Vierkant,” 2013. Left: Detachable Storage Rack for a Metallic Structure 1 (Exploit), 2013. Right: Air Filter and Method of Constructing Same 6, Six Screen Ascending Blue (Exploit), 2013. (Image modified by artist.)

View of “Artie Vierkant,” 2013. Left: Detachable Storage Rack for a Metallic Structure 1 (Exploit), 2013. Right: Air Filter and Method of Constructing Same 6, Six Screen Ascending Blue (Exploit), 2013. (Image modified by artist.)

Artie Vierkant

New Galerie

View of “Artie Vierkant,” 2013. Left: Detachable Storage Rack for a Metallic Structure 1 (Exploit), 2013. Right: Air Filter and Method of Constructing Same 6, Six Screen Ascending Blue (Exploit), 2013. (Image modified by artist.)

The black square, once the triumphant “zero degree” of modern form, is now a screen—a window screen, to be exact. For “US 6318569 B1, US 8118919 B1; (Exploits),” his first solo exhibition in Paris, New Yorker Artie Vierkant secured licenses to fabricate seventy-five units of each of two United States patents—versions that adhere to the inventors’ guidelines within an established range of deviation. US 6318569 B1, Detachable Storage Rack for a Metallic Structure, is currently licensed as a commercial product: Magnarack, a spice rack that adheres to metal refrigerator doors via rare-earth magnets. In contrast, the owner of US 8118919, Air Filter and Method of Constructing Same, a technique for layering pollen-, allergy-, and UV-resistant organza fabric over window screens, is still seeking to sell it outright.

Unsurprisingly, Vierkant’s realizations of these patents are recognizably “art.” The screens, in single squares or door-size rectangles (with the organza behind the metal screen) recall monochrome paintings. The storage racks, here more like empty shelves, are arranged on diagonals, horizontals, and verticals against grounds of reflective magnetic aluminum, invoking geometric abstraction, Michelangelo Pistoletto’s gallery-enfolding mirror pieces, and a sculptural lineage stretching from El Lissitzky to Donald Judd.

Vierkant’s objects thus embody both legal procedure and art-historical reference—and the two are, of course, not mutually exclusive, as artists have utilized patents, copyright, and intellectual-property law before, with varying degrees of control and success. Air filter and method of constructing same 6, Six Screen Ascending Blue (Exploit), 2013, brings to mind Yves Klein’s trademarking of IKB, a process for binding ultramarine pigment to polyvinyl acetate, in 1960 (one of eight French patents by the artist). “Exploit,” appended parenthetically to the title of each work, echoes the awkward language of the 1992 Rogers v. Koons decision, in which Jeff Koons was successfully sued by Art Rogers for appropriating copyrighted photography (Koons’s adaptation of the plaintiff’s image into four sculptures was deemed “intentionally exploitive”). On other occasions, Koons asked companies for permission when reproducing their advertisements; in contrast, Vierkant’s objects retain the bland sheen of SkyMall gadgetry while deriving their difference from the patent language itself.

In 1992, Koons claimed that parody made his appropriation fair use, contending that his critique of American “banality” differentiated his objectives, however commercial, from those of the original photographer—a surprising recrudescence of the art/kitsch dichotomy. The community of New York–based artists that Vierkant belongs to, which includes those affiliated with the Tumblr The Jogging, DIS Magazine, and other online platforms, uses the Internet to efface any such distance from pop culture or banal consumption. Vierkant has referred to his own approach as “Post-Internet,” situated between physical objects and the manipulation of their online documentation; his ongoing series of “Image Objects,” 2011–, for example, constitutes a Web 2.0 take on Robert Smithson’s non-sites. The “Exploits” examine an older, legally mandated anachronistic relationship between design and made thing, analogizing the long history of authorship debates in art (could prior artists be understood as unofficial, uncompensated patent holders?) as much as the coding used in new technologies such as 3-D printing. Vierkant has already subtly altered the installation images, adding traces of images from the original two- and three-dimensional drawings for the patents he has licensed, and in an online “trailer” for the show, a curious thing happens. The designs appear to come to life—to dance, even—their measurements and components sliding and intertwining to an ethereal synthesized beat. This animation of the possible stands in contrast to the actual works in the gallery, which cannot escape their enervating whiff of the everyday. It is only between IRL drudgery and the absurd limitlessness of the Net that Vierkant finds his poetry.

Daniel Quiles