Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Darren Banks: 'Empty Distances' Mark Moore Gallery, Los Angeles, USA

Image: Darren banks Blob 18 2013 Ink on paper. 31 x 31 cm, 12 1/4 x 12 1/4 in, Courtesy of the artist and Workplace Gallery, UK

Opening Reception:
Saturday, June 15, 6-8pm

On View Through:
July 20th, 2013
Tues - Sat 11-6, and by appointment daily

Mark Moore Gallery and guest curator Caryn Coleman present "Empty Distances," a group exhibition featuring works by James Aldridge, Darren Banks, Sean Higgins, Deborah Stratman, Alan Warburton, and a selection of episodes from "The Twilight Zone." Playing on Eugene Thacker's idea of horror as the "paradoxical thought of the unthinkable," Coleman has meticulously composed a show that illustrates the visualization and simultaneous abstraction of the unknown. Concurrently in the Project Room, the gallery presents "Untitled #160 (Balcombe)", the latest video by gallery artist Josh Azzarella. Known for work that explores the power of context in the authorship of memory, Azzarella oftentimes utilizes seminal moments in pop culture and news media to create accessible confrontations with historiography. From his videos and photographs, Azzarella meticulously extracts characters, shadows, and audio from each frame of a well known event or film. The resulting visuals consist of altered background scenes haunted by the absence of familiar narrative, and pose provoking questions about the disturbingly similar dissemination of fact and fiction. In this work, F.W. Murnau's 1922 German Expressionist classic "Nosferatu" undergoes a comprehensive transformation.

Through an assortment of drawings, paintings, photographs, and videos, the artists in "Empty Distances" delve into creative perceptions of "the void" - a nebulous space that can refer to post-apocalyptic, pre-civilization, or even psychological vacuity. These physical and mental chasms are astutely manifested in James Aldridge's (UK) Black Metal Theory-infused paintings and works on paper - which contend with our societal reliance on images to determine the natural world - as well as Darren Banks' (UK) ink on paper "Blobs," which act as tropes for the all-consuming fear of the unknown. Similarly, Sean Higgins' (CA) manipulated photographs assume intervening roles in the creation of landscape and cosmic imagery, while Deborah Stratman's (IL) black and white film, "…These Blazeing Starrs!" (2011) depicts the macabre struggle for power between mortality and catastrophe. In using technology to visualize a true "world-without-us," Alan Warburton (UK) animates the ghostly aesthetics of vacancy, using z-depth images to reference our cultural shortsightedness. Finally, Coleman will present several episodes from the classic sci-fi television series, "The Twilight Zone" (1959 - 1964) - created by Rod Serling. As an overarching depiction of fear and the unknown, the featured episodes in Empty Distances best exemplify Serling's cautionary narratives, which often oscillate between the horrific and fantastic. Despite being depicted as thrilling events in a parallel universe, Serling's tales ultimately become allegorical omens for our own impending realities; perils for which we are often to blame.

Similarly, Josh Azzarella delves into "Nosferatu," the thrilling adaptation of Bram Stoker's Gothic novel "Dracula" (1897). Over the course of two years, the artist has painstakingly erased all evidence of the characters - including their reflections and shadows - from the original footage, along with the film's infamous soundtrack and expository intertitles. Azzarella has re-built the vacant space left by his extractions pixel by pixel, constructing an alternative rendition of the film that exemplifies his mastery of digital construction through perfectly accurate imitation and craft. Added to each panorama is a reconstructed version of the original Erdmann scores and ambient noises that reflect the atmosphere of the original film. The outcome is an uncanny 90-minute portrayal of the original classic that identically matches Murnau's lighting, film quality, and resolution, but abolishes its pioneering storyline and figures. Despite the absence of these key elements, the film's eerie and dark nature is practically amplified through Azzarella's manipulations-doors open mysteriously, curtains sway, and dawn breaks to ominous music, heightening the tension of implied action. The viewer watches each scene with the feeling of anticipation, the desire to see something spectacular occur without the gratification. With Count Orlok absent, the Gothic architecture and gloomy backdrops assume a characterization of their own, unsettled in much the same way as the viewer-waiting for the film's antagonist to emerge yet unable to coax him into existence. Viewing the video, one gets a sense of how existential characters, Vladimir and Estragon must have felt as they waited for Godot.

Mark Moore Gallery
5790 Washington Blvd
Culver City, CA 90232
Telephone 310 453 3031
Fax 310 453 3831