Curated by William Lee
SLEEPCENTER, 9 Monroe St., Bsmt, New York
September 22 – October 6, 2017
Hours: 12pm – 6pm Friday – Sunday,
weekdays by appointment via firstname.lastname@example.org
Opening Reception: Friday, September 22nd, 2017 @ 6pm – 9pm
Artist Talk: Sunday, September 24th, 2017 @ 3pm – 5pm
SLEEPCENTER is delighted to present Site After Sight, a two-person exhibition featuring American Artist and Ryota Sato, in which they interrogate interfaces and forms of commonplace technology to reveal that accessibility and visibility does not always equate to agency. Emerging technologies may have afforded us more conveniences by streamlining redundant processes, giving us easy access to limitless information, and various platforms for vocalizing viewpoints, but this expansion of choice comes with the caveat that each moment of identification is itself a moment of capture.
The question of emancipation is a question of representation. It is not just that an alienated subject is displaced from their surroundings, but is further rendered incapable of determining their own identity, to represent themselves. To think of a state of freedom and agency, then, is to rethink how one is first constituted as a subject, their relationship to the world, and what constitutes that world itself. In short, we must understand the conditions of representations in order to revise them.
The plastic and aluminium casings of our smartphones and computers are rendered as invisible as the glass screens on which our primary interaction with the technology takes place. The on-screen does not reflect the outside world, but allows the user to peer into a depthless, yet infinite plane; it is only when the screen is off that one is mirrored in glass. American Artist’s Towards the Wild Beyond is composed of smartphones immersed in blue velvet. Each phone displays a command line interface, alluding to early computing technology prior to the commercialization of accessible UIs, that cycles through various textual quotes being rejected as proper commands, as they speculate on blackness as opposed to the ideology of whiteness to define the space of creative potential. Meanwhile, The Black Critique is a closed locker that emits germicidal UV light seen through two holes, where fans radiate within. A purified environment filled only with black light and noise, an attempt to formalize the “the pure and empty form of death” that constitutes the subject.
Ryota Sato’s Untitled are two silk-screened indexes of a printed circuit board, now embedded behind plastic and rock-textured spray-paint. The grid is obscured by the shadows of various leaves to create a collage of natural and artificial materials. These pieces use the model for assembling computer monitors to create a similar object of the components necessary for producing images themselves. The faint traces of earthy textures and foliage compel the viewer to rethink the representation of natural processes, in the decay of leaves and the production of technology. Sato’s video, Vid1, depicts the artist viewing never before seen videos on YouTube, markedly making him the first to view these images on the platform, as does an explorer discover majestic vistas of new lands. Yet, the significance of novelty erodes once one can have it over and over again.
The two artists present entry points through which the viewer may begin to think about how representation is controlled by the mechanisms which do the representing. Naturally, something always escapes being captured by an image, so that it could never be completely represented. Thus, a new system must be created to locate and define the aberration. Sometimes it is only when we look in the rifts, the moist figureprints tracing our nimble strokes on touchscreens, or the algorithmically-neglected content of search engines, that we begin to see the shape of a different, unseen world.
American Artist (b. Altadena, CA, U.S., 1989) is an interdisciplinary artist whose work extends dialectics formalized in Black radicalism and organized labor into a context of networked virtual life. Their practice makes use of video, installation, new media, and writing to reveal historical dynamics embedded within contemporary culture and technology.
Ryota Sato (b. Okayama, Japan, 1980) is an artist currently based in New York. His practice spans digital media, video installation, painting, photography, and sculpture. His work explores the relationship between human bodies, landscapes, information media, slippage of nature-culture and the circulation of imagery particularly in relation to image capturing devices.