Russell Maltz in Game Show, Miami Beach Urban Studios Gallery, College of Architecture + Arts, Florida International University, Miami Beach, Florida

Russell Maltz

Installation view with work by Russell Maltz (foreground)

February 15 – March 15, 2013

Curated by Dustin London

Game Show explores “gaming” as it is played out in a wide range of contemporary art practices through the work of nine nationally and internationally exhibiting artists: Jeremy Couillard, Mariah Dekkenga, Aaron Hughes, Dustin London, Russell Maltz, Michael Namkung, Michael Perrone, Jacob Sudol, and Brian Zegeer. Work included in the exhibition is influenced by, or makes reference to, board games, video games, puzzles, sports and athletics, or has a game-like mindset in concept or construction. Much of the work repurposes the parameters or structures of a game to call attention to process rather than objective, or redefines the objective entirely. Though a sense of play runs throughout the exhibition, the traditionally light-hearted nature of gaming acts as a foil for aesthetic, conceptual, or even existential concerns, using gaming as a metaphor for the complexities and absurdities of life itself.

Jeremy Couillard’s videos are experienced from a first person point-of-view as we wander through the deserted video game space of the creator’s psyche. The work is a lo-fi spiritual journey through microcosms and macrocosms, ruminations on an imagined apocalypse, the universe, dreams, and how video games and media alter the nature of our memories and innermost experiences. Brian Zegeer’s video, Pull My Daisy, an adaptation of the 1959 Robert Frank and Alfred Leslie film, takes on a similarly cosmic feel when digital game sounds weave in and out of complex prismatic visuals. The work is a reenactment of the original film, set in the derelict former apartment of Allan Ginsberg (who starred in the film), where Zegeer was squatting at the time. The work is comprised of collaged stop-motion animations, embracing Frank’ and Leslie’s departure from conventional narrative structures. Aaron Hughes’ stop-motion animation, Person Pinball, uses humans in real spaces that act as the makeshift components of a pinball game that he plays from a rooftop overhead. Figures humorously roll and bounce their way through the streets of Brooklyn as they rack up points in Hughes’ attempt to “win” the game.

In her video and sculptural work of the same title, Puzzle, Mariah Dekkenga assembles a jigsaw puzzle that she has altered by painting each piece a different color, forcing her to organize and fit pieces together based on shape rather than image. The endeavor transforms a game of leisure into an absurd act of endurance while also recontextualizing what it is to make a “painting.” Dekkenga’s finished puzzle will share the floor with a site-specific installation by Russell Maltz from his Ballpark Series, taking its aesthetic cues from the green and white color scheme of baseball fields. The work repurposes standard construction materials such as PVC pipes and plywood sheets into formal stacked arrangements relating to the architecture of the gallery space. Paint is applied as “material on material” and defines areas or zones, transforming these raw materials into “painted objects.” The piece is then disassembled by others (usually construction workers) who reclaim it for its original purpose in the erection of buildings and structures. The work fosters a discussion of painting in terms of process, duration, and time, and calls attention to both the physicality of materials and the poetics of their potentiality.

Michael Perrone’s Plane Plan Paintings are a series of abstract oil paintings based on diagrams for folding paper into airplanes. Straightforward instructional diagrams are transformed into spatial pictorial constructions. Conversely, potential airplane forms are kept insistently flat to the boldly graphic surface of the painting, creating a fluctuating tension between three-dimensionality and two-dimensionality. The paintings redefine the initial objective where purely formal relationships between color, shape, edge, and surface are ends in themselves. Dustin London’s work takes a similarly formal approach in a series of abstract drawings referencing sporting fields, video games, kite making, and board games. A cryptic and idiosyncratic logic guides an internal order where relationships between line and shape, space and flatness, create constellations, mazes, puzzles, aerial diagrams, and perspectival spaces, sometimes all simultaneously. Each piece becomes a meditation on line and space.

Drawing on the language of sports training and athletic performance, Michael Namkung’s work explores the sensory experiences of drawing under physical strain, often to the point of failure. Through performance, video, installation, and the participation of others, he investigates questions of process, materiality and perception, specifically in terms of their relationship to the body. Namkung will be leading an audience participation based performance for the duration of the opening reception. In a piece made specifically for the exhibition, musician Jacob Sudol plays games with the notions of participation and interactivity. In an interactive piece written for the toy piano, the piano “plays” itself through computer controlled playback of toy piano samples until someone sits down to play the piano, at which point the computer analyzes what is being played and plays back something that sometimes goes along with what that person plays and sometimes not at all.

Electronic music performance by Jacob Sudol and FLEA: Tuesday, February 26, 7pm FIU Assistant Professor of Composition and Director of Music Technology Jacob Sudol and his FIU Laptop and Electro-Acoustic (FLEA) Ensemble will give an electronic music performance where musicians react to one another in real time within certain parameters, creating a musical “game” between performers.

Performance by Michael Namkung: Tuesday, March 5, 6:30pm

FIU Assistant Professor of Drawing Michael Namkung will be doing a drawing performance exploring themes of process and exhaustion, materiality and perception following Amelia Jones’ 5pm lecture, “Queering Performance and Performing Queer: The Histrionic Performances of Nao Bustamante.”