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Group show explores representations of time at UB Art Gallery

"Day for Night," installation by Jordan Geiger.

Time Mutations

Time was problematic enough when it was linear (or seemed to be).

A current exhibit at the UB Art Gallery endeavors to explore what it calls the “broken timeline” and its effects. Basically, the wholesale dismantling and destruction of our perceptions of sequential time and the orderly occurrence of events in time and space in a digital electronic age. Without actually understanding Einstein’s theory as to the relativity of time and space, we begin to feel it. The exhibit, called Time Mutations, is part of a collaborative effort between media study programs at the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar and UB.

Because “maps are of time, not place,” several of the artists pursue representing fractured and disorderly time as maps with a twist. Or twists, plural, literally, in a piece by Katarina Boemig called I am telling you a story (home 1996-2006). The work is a paper cut-out city street map pinned to a wall, but not quite flat against the wall, but with folds and gathers, resulting in relief bows and bends, reminiscent of space-time curves as represented in mathematical topology graphs. Or for a literary reference, considering both plastic artwork and title, Leopold Bloom’s partly purposeful though largely chance traversal of the city of Dublin on a single day, June 16, 1904, as chronicled in James Joyce’s Ulysses. Ms. Boemig’s traversal of the represented topology and associated story extended over a decade, it seems.

Another map work is by Cayden Mak, called Buffalo(ve). It consists of an aerial-view map of a large portion of the West Side of the city, and series of transparencies that apparently, in a series of iterations, one at a time, had been overlaid on the map, and map and transparency displayed in some public setting, and the public invited to contribute commentary in pen marker directly on the map, that is, on the transparency. The map and a half dozen or so transparencies are here displayed on a rack, the transparencies aligned just as they were originally placed on the map. So that peering through the series of transparencies, what you see is a jumble of comments increasingly indecipherable as increasingly distant from the observer. A little like history itself. Or maybe, with history, it’s the other way around. But the larger point seems to be the a-chronological jumble.

From a side angle perspective—this may be cheating a little—you can better make out some of the actual comments. Somebody’s recording of the location where he or she “got ‘doored’ on my bike, August 1009.” Somebody else’s marking of the “site of the Milburn House where President McKinley died, 9/01.” Somebody’s marking of the Forest Lawn gravesite of “Rick James (R.I.P.),” and little tombstone with a cross. Some punctilious history and geography student’s placement of a directional arrow south along Main Street and the information that “Streets configure off Main St., having lined up from early Buffalo R. harborfront up to [illegible] downtown commerce. Oriented 14o off N.” Somebody’s marking of the vigil location of “Women in Black, every Saturday since the start of the war.” Something [writing not entirely legible] about a traffic cone on the head of the General Bidwell statue on Colonial Circle. No date supplied. But most of the comments include some sort of date/time notation.

Another layering work is by Carrie Kaser and consists of a number of long scrolls of pen and ink drawing representations of computer screen images and information—sometimes just single-layer, in which case legible, but mostly multiple layers, from two to a black forest of overtype and overimage indecipherability. The computer information ranging from personal email to Wikipedia-like entries to news to ads. An email from Tim Scaffidi, one of the artists in the show, seems to illustrate precisely the synchronicity matter the exhibit is getting at. The email reads: “Just in case you don’t know. ArtProject, powered by Google Explore museums from around the world, discover and view hundreds of artworks at incredible zoom levels, and even create and share your own collection of masterpieces.” That kind of project used to occur in time and space. At least a different kind of time and space.

Scaffidi’s work in the show is a wall sculpture comprising a conglomeration of electronics boxes and wires, a clock on speed, and small cathode ray tube displaying an evolving spiral band, in turn displaying the sequence of numbers on the clock face, other times evoking DNA.

A visually stunning work by Brian Clark, Anna Scime, and Neil Terry includes an array of deep cerulean blue solar panels and variable light source—like the variable light of the sun—energizing the solar panels, resulting in illumination intensity and color changes in a white plastic disk—something like a sun—on the back of the solar panels.

Among other works are a gargantuan nondescript soft sculpture you can climb and flop around on, maybe to better contemplate the “broken-timeline” phenomenon, and a continuous montage of the protracted montage of the man on a camel approaching from a distance across the desert sands, from the movie Lawrence of Arabia.

The Time Mutations exhibit continues through May 4.

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