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The Transmaterial World

The Transmaterial World
A mixed bag at UB Anderson Gallery

An exhibit at the UB Anderson Gallery on innovative art and architectural design and materials features a bicycle seat with a secondary purpose as male contraceptive device, and a wand device for self-administered radiation spot-treatments of cervical cancer.

The exhibit is called Transmaterial and is about art and architecture’s effort to keep pace with technological progress in the present era. A headnote to the show talks about “push[ing] materials beyond conventional uses and reinvent[ing] fabrication methods,” and the “ultimate quest to balance functionalism and aesthetics.”

Among the works on show, several reiterative pattern crimped and folded metal architectural façade constructions—together with blueprint-like drawings of the construction elements—by the design team of Nicholas Bruscia and Christopher Romano. Similar to the work you can see—presented as sculpture more than architecture—near the entrance to Silo City, in the field off to the right. Spectacular and beautiful.

Also beautiful but much more stark in character are two screen façade works by Jonathan Casey. Of slab concrete, pierced in one case in a strict horizontals and verticals pattern, in the other with casual cloud forms, reminiscent of paintings by Joan Miró, sculptures by Barbara Hepworth.

Another work in concrete is by Kate Gaudy, who regularly works in concrete, and the work often has an emphatically experimental look, as if she’s trying to figure out where she’s going with it, much as the viewer has to figure out what it’s about. The present piece is a large fabric of some sort draped over some unseen understructure and concretized. That is, the cloth was apparently first soaked in wet concrete then allowed to dry and harden on the understructure. Sculptors since the Greeks have been appreciated for their ability to turn stone into fabric, represent fabric in stone. Gaudy turns this around, turning fabric into stone.

Another piece is by Jozef Bajus. Called Big Bundle, composed of two large hanging side by side wood panels multiply pierced and the piercings threaded with coils of plastic tubing, connecting the panels, which remain essentially discrete, however. More art than architecture, but you could think of the wood panels as ambiguous architectural façade of some sort.

Among other works, a wood box with plexiglass windows you can put your head in and hear sounds like a ringing in the ears, somehow supposedly reminiscent of rain. And a collaborative work by Carlie Todoro-Rickus and Christina Barmosz consisting of a barely translucent plastic panel in front of a TV set, so that you can just see there is a TV set behind the screen, but not see (or hear) who or what’s on it.

The dual-function bicycle seat and cancer spot-treatment wand are among various items exploiting ambient environment electromagnetic forces (EMFs) in innovative ways, explained in wall text and illustrated in drawings and with 3-D printer-produced models of the items by Jordan Geiger.

He says the contraceptive bike seat is an invention of the Dutch, and particularly suited, it would seem, to their nation—the Netherlands—smallish in land mass and hemmed in by the sea, so that population control would seem to be a national priority. He says and illustrates how the bike seat is subtly ridged to restrict blood flow—in nether regions that would be—a pun I could not resist—and surfaced with some kind of antenna material that would emit electromagnetic wavelengths harmful to male fertility. The other EMF-utilizing devices are, in addition to the radiation-emitting personal-use wand, a prosthetic tooth implantable in one’s jaw after the removal of a genuine tooth of similar size and shape—that would transmit audio directly into the cranial bony structure. Get rid once and for all of these pesky earbuds and wires and inconvenient to lug around iPod. And electro-conductive-ink tattoos around the head to redirect the ubiquitous EMFs and limit the potential for their penetration into the brain.

Could this be hoax art? The Jordan Geiger descriptions and illustrations? It didn’t occur to me when I viewed the exhibit, but now—writing about it, writing such preposterous stuff—it would seem so. How could I have been so naïve? Could Jordan Geiger be a hoax name? Geiger counter?

The Transmaterial exhibit was curated by Alicia Marván. It continues through August 16.

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