New York

Harry Dodge, Love Streams, 2015, video, color, sound, 14 minutes 8 seconds.

Harry Dodge, Love Streams, 2015, video, color, sound, 14 minutes 8 seconds.

Harry Dodge


Harry Dodge, Love Streams, 2015, video, color, sound, 14 minutes 8 seconds.

When Harry Dodge speaks, he does so profusely: Why, his artworks suggest, let one example serve when six will make the point more vibrantly? Thus the superlative video Love Streams, 2015, a four-part, fourteen-minute riff on quantum physics, object relations, automatons, and “an extra-long extender-thing for the tray that holds your keyboard,” a device that spreads as fancifully as its prolix description. Dodge’s staggering, stuttering descriptions are accumulative rather than taxonomic; examples are amassed and oppositions, images, and narratives are stacked atop one another rather than used to narrow the field. This accretive method is seen in the cobbled-together sculptures and wall pieces that filled this show. In one of Dodge’s eight-foot paintings, for example, a Plexiglas stencil of the sale listing for a coyote carcass (ITEM SPECIFICS / CONDITION: USED / ANIMAL TYPE: COYOTE) is pressed against a ground of fluorescent spray paint that highlights and obscures the words themselves—but it is in the video that the method is most productive.

In their 1995 essay “Shame in the Cybernetic Fold,” Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick and Adam Frank challenge contemporary projects of applied theory—a framework, they write, that can “all too adequately be summarized as ‘kinda subversive, kinda hegemonic’”—for reinforcing an understanding of binaries that cements their structure, even when attempting to complicate them. For Sedgwick and Frank, psychologist Silvan Tomkins’s texts on affect theory provide a model for the “complex, multilayered phyllo dough of the analog and the digital,” one that combines and layers oppositions rather than shuttling between them. Dodge has fully claimed that culinary metaphor for himself: The exhibition’s name, “The Cybernetic Fold”; the subtitle of one work, My Glassy Essence (Shame in the Cybernetic Fold), 2015; and the content for the third section of his video, “Wrong about an Object,” are all taken from the essay’s title. Love Streams exploits the structural possibilities of video to embrace the contradictions of this mode of profuse speech, which, like Tomkins’s writing, gestures “toward the possibility of random, virtually infinite permutation, some of it trivial, some of it highly significant.”

As in his remarkable 2014 piece The Time-Eaters, the characters in Love Streams (here played by Dodge himself) repeat themselves both during a take and in postproduction. Sitting in a wooden chair, glasses on, pencil in hand, with the cadence and bravado of someone comfortable before an audience, Dodge expounds on the principle of indeterminacy, summarizing physicist Niels Bohr’s argument that posits that the world is not made of separate elements, “but rather, if you follow it through, that the world is one whole. One whole. An unbroken whole in flowing movement.” Yet this whole-in-flux is represented via the assembly of discrete parts—the stitching and scrubbing of a number of performances of the statement—and between each line of this critical moment, there is a jump cut that physically moves Dodge on the screen, or the black-and-white filter is turned off or on. Throughout the video, Dodge combines and reconfigures the parts so that it is always clear that the whole is a construction. He even adds filters to simulate the flickering of film and the scan lines of videotape, turning them on and off throughout, lest we miss the point that this is a collision of forms in which incongruous textures and colors are muddled together.

Rather than “in-between-ness” (which he sometimes describes as his goal), the result of Dodge’s layering is closer to a condition of “both/and.” That is to say, rather than asserting that there is a slippery middle place between two poles—between, say, the analog and the digital—Dodge’s work insists that one position can have it all. The force of the binary is diminished, even mocked, through Dodge’s savors of profusion.

Rachel Churner