Tunneling for Treasure in Bushwick

08/18/2010 3:30 AM |

We all had our eyes on a dig at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico for the last few months, which doesn’t explain why, deep in the wonderful new exhibition, Tunneling, at Bushwick-Ridgewood gallery Famous Accountants (through September 4), there’s a big BP logo on the floor. The tarnished oil giant’s logo triggers Mark Skwarek and Joseph Hocking’s “the leak in your home town,” an original iPhone app that sprouts a 3D Deepwater Horizon leak on users’ handheld devices. Though it’s the show’s most politicized piece, probing corporate tunnel vision, other new media works are even more complex.

Exhibition curator Will Pappenheimer collaborated on the most elaborate, “Side Effects” (2010), a video documenting clinical trials of a hallucinogenic drug created for consumption within Second Life. In that piece, a doctor visits a drugged Mickey Mouse-like patient stumbling through a series of disjointed online locales. The most disorienting is a series of mazes with walls covered in YouTube videos which make the dumbfounded lab rat’s eyes twirl in a spiral pattern echoed in Jen Schwarting‘s giant nylon piece “double dip (black)” (2010, pictured) on the opposite wall. Such apt juxtapositions of intricate and minimal works fill the narrow basement gallery.

At the end of the tunnel the two come together in Luke Murphy‘s “Dice Spiral,” a video of rotating die whose movements are dictated by an adjacent Geiger counter’s readings of low-level radioactive sources. The casual installation is disproportionately unsettling, confronting viewers with trace amounts of this primordial material from the planet’s depths disguised as kitschy dishes. Incomprehensible doom of a different sort lurks in Rico Gatson‘s mesmerizing video “Departure” (2001), looping a few minutes of Sigourney Weaver running down darkened spaceship hallways at the end of Alien. Only one quarter of the original frame is visible, mirrored across horizontal and vertical axes so the image becomes a beautiful abstraction. Next to the gloomy projection are meticulous collages by Meg Hitchcock featuring passages from Sartre, Jung, Darwin, the Bible, the Book of Job and the Koran rendered with individual letters cut and glued in patterns like the rings of a tree. Gatson and Hitchcock synthesize new channels for exploration by cutting and folding existing texts in on themselves.

Tunneling is full of entry points. At the front of the gallery Cooper Holoweski‘s three ominous videos—like “Limits of Models” (2009), which floats through upside-down Manhattan as rendered by Google Earth, like some sweded version of Inception—face Susanna Starr‘s two multi-layered, rainbow-toned plastic cutouts, situating us between technophobic nightmares and brightly optimistic dream-catchers. It’s well worth digging your way out of Chelsea’s gallery mall for such impressively rich exhibitions at Brooklyn’s newest emerging galleries.

(images courtesy Meg Hitchcock, Jen Schwarting, Susanna Starr)