You might note, upon entering, a minor clamor. A buzz-droning something in an unseen somewhere. Whatever it is, it sounds cyclic, geared. Wherever it is, you feel thereto lured. Resistance, however, is key. Let the objects on the first floor torque your mind first.
Your location, incidentally, is Interstate Projects, whose spatial reach is now broader and sharper since its recent migration. A good move it was: within, without and beneath, its exhibitional capacities are more widely open and riper to exploit.
Cheon pyo Lee exploits them up and down with vigorous wit and mechanized verve in Medium is the Same (through Oct 14), an exhibition in which media-mixing mechanisms and installations, however apparently disparate, quickly work on you in a common way: they seize your gaze for an instant, then leave it astir; they capture your attention, entrance you for a moment, then scatter your focus away. As Lee’s critique is aimed at the cycles of fabrication and consumption that waste resources and numb minds, this is an awfully fitting—and fun—effect.
Carefully diffused and curio-heavy, the exhibit’s eponymous wall piece is an expansive intermingling of hand-crafted objects and gathered ephemera, a mural legend of sorts for Lee’s conceptual inputs. A more pointed work nearby, Chinese Waterfall, features currency counters mounted one atop the other with a dollar-note-toting conveyor belt rigged beneath—an invitation for visitors to spend and rend, cycle and churn.
Similar churnings, cyclings and gear-tonal murmurings are what then draw you to the gallery’s nether tier, where Lee’s true fabricatory coup, Felicity—a rudimentarily formed container ship circumscribed by toy-monkey-bearing, toxic-spill-swirling arms—is buoyantly poised to unsettle, unnerve and amuse. Their rackety instruments removed, the simian cymbalists are rendered human-like and painted chalky white. You watch them jerk about maddeningly, clatter-clappingly, then freeze up. Beastly automatons or automated beasts, they are hauntingly aggravating and hilarious at once. Subjugated to this dimly lighted lair down below, they appear as repetition-powered generators for everything above, toilers bored stiff flipping commercial tricks for tedium pimps. One might even imagine Felicity to be the unexpectedly physical, Flintstone-phone-like interface behind the buzzy humdrummery of social networks. Commerce therein too, of course.