Sunday, November 12, 2006

Keny Marshall @ Space

Here are Merge's thoughts about the Kenny Marshall show at Space Gallery downtown.

After I escaped the congestion at the Mattress Factory, I made the short drive downtown to have a look at Keny Marshall's opening at SPACE Gallery downtown. A look through the glass plate exterior of SPACE hints at the antiquated industrial wonderland inside. A conglomeration of pipes, gauges and joints coalesces into a large free-form mazelike structure reminiscent of a particularly dangerous playground "jungle gym". As impressively foreboding as the piece is, it merely hints of the magic contained at the rear of the gallery.

"Apophenia" is a confounding and playful installation centered on a large glass sphere aquarium. The movements of several fish (successors to the trail-blazing, but now unfortunately-deceased creatures involved during the project's initial conception) are videotaped by unobtrusive cameras that feed into two stacked monitors nearby. Motion-detectors attached to the screens monitor the movements of the aforementioned fish, and send electrical charges to towers with plastic slinky-like respirators. The resulting discharges of air are directed into beat-up brass instruments that announce the activities of the marine life.

Keny Marshall must be some sort of mad genius to have dreamed up such a scheme. As the piece's title suggests, it is a commentary on "patterns or connections in random or meaningless data." Yet it elicits a consideration of the very nature of concepts like "random" and "meaningless". Such carefully orchestrated harnessing of instinctual animal behavior suggests an intricately manipulative plan, whereby the artist has become the divine arbiter of fate. Through his contraption, Marshall articulates a dialogue between chance and creation. And it's all accentuated by an aesthetic reminiscent of the post-industrial tableus of Jean Pierre-Jeunet and Marc Caro (City of Lost Children, Delicatessen).

But why rely on my rather heavy-handed attempts to describe "Apophenia"? You may have missed the opening, but the exhibit continues until December 31st. Make it a point to come out and see this wildly inspired grand design.

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