Are stories larger than objects? Justin Lieberman’s exhibition at Marc Jancou Contemporary certainly suggests as much: a viewer might be able to gain a broad view of Lieberman’s organized igloo of yard sale ephemera, but it would be nearly impossible to get that kind of perspective on all the text attached to each piece. Displayed on a computer inside the sculpture, a program renders a clickable 3-D anime version of the work while projecting the individual objects and writing the user looks at on an adjacent wall.
Lieberman’s exhibition, The Corrector’s Custom Pre-Fab House, draws from an array of post-modern influences. The dome itself is inspired by renowned po-mo architect Robert Venturi, along with Denise Scott-Brown’s 1972 book, Learning From Las Vegas, which recognizes an emerging kind of building that responds to speed, mobility, the superhighway, changing lifestyles and a taste for the lowbrow. In front of the building stands The Corrector, a custom made sculpture of a Japanese store owner, influenced, according to the press release, by the fictional figure, Nobusuke Tagomi, in Philip K Dick’s multi-faceted alternate history novel, The Man in the High Castle.
As far as cultural references go, Lieberman’s choices are almost too perfect. The architectural form and philosophy nearly identically match the artist’s idiosyncratic collection of stuff, and the structure of the novel Lieberman draws from contains as many story lines as the piece he’s made. The artist couldn’t be more text-book post modern if he tried. Perhaps the most meaningful connection between the work and its influences comes from the blurring of the true and false reality thematic of the book, also literalized by the sculpture. After all, The Corrector’s Custom Pre-Fab House demands a viewer experience just as much virtually as they do in real time. Physically this doesn’t require much we’re not already used to; switching between flat mediums and three dimensional is at this point routine for most of us, even if Lieberman presents a form we’re not used to. However, the piece points to an appetite for and efficiency of cultural consumption unique to contemporary life. Even if it’s impossible to read every plagiarized product description, short story and aesthetic meditation the artist’s computer program provides, the desire to do so seems to have increased with the ease in which it can be done.
Mirroring most data structures, synthesis of these stories seems to be beside the point. Says one piece of text from a narrative accompanying a can with the word KOOL on it, “We look at the same thing but what registers on us is completely different.” And yet, these differences don’t erase stereotypes. Certainly The Corrector, Lieberman’s sculpture of a Japanese man with big teeth and squinting eyes begs the question: is it ok for artists to iterate racist pop culture iconography without making a critical point? If Leiberman’s work is any indication, in the name of collection, display and consumption almost anything goes so long as it can be queried in a database. In this light, perhaps the only flaw of this piece is that The Corrector himself isn’t given a story.