Get 'Remixed' at the Art House, Now Through June 2
The May exhibit at the Art House Gallery in Manahawkin, “Remixed2: A Collaborative Entanglement of Used Electronics,” drew its inspiration from, of all things, Facebook.
The idea: “Someone should stage an art exhibit of works fashioned from outmoded electronic components and accessories. Doesn’t everybody have a box full of miscellaneous spare parts, TV cables, USB cords, earphones and other odds and ends?”
With that, gallery director Samantha Palmeri found her exhibit for the month of May. She and her husband, Jon Slackman, collected donations of technoclutter from community members and set about deconstructing, recombining and shaping the “mechanical carnage” into four separate pieces of art, using latex paint, some gold and silver, and some resin to pull it all together.
In that way, the project became a community-wide collaboration – an incentive for people to offload their junk – and a fun alternative to trashing the items or letting them sit around collecting dust and taking up space.
For the artists, the actual construction of the exhibit was executed with “no real plan,” Palmeri said, but rather “a spontaneous creative process,” whereby they laid down cardboard, spread out all the parts before them, and simply went to work. Sculpting. Connecting and disconnecting. Dissecting, binding, dangling, winding.
The end result is both visually and mentally stimulating.
A small television (the box-y kind) sits in one corner, anchoring an assortment of thick cords, seeming to glower as it blows “snow” – symbolic of tech-geek angst? Or serving only to amuse and maybe mesmerize? (“It looks cool at night,” Slackman said, especially with the strands of castoff holiday lights plugged in.)
Atop the TV, a VCR (remember those?) is propped on its side with its guts on display.
In the center of the room, a mess of miscellany decorates and disguises a coat rack, from lamp parts and electrical plugs to outlet assemblies and remote controls.
On the walls behind the sculptures, Palmeri painted shadow-y echoes of the hanging cords.
Taken in all at once, the electrojunk represents the detritus of the ongoing technological evolution, as newer gadgets replace older ones, and ever-shrinking attention spans are distracted by and attracted to the next, smaller, faster thing.
Slackman puts it down to a phenomenon he calls “‘The Godfather’ factor”: How many times will you buy it? On VHS, Director’s Cut, DVD, Hi-Def, BluRay, Digitally Remastered, Special Anniversary Edition? The point, Slackman said, is the industry benefits from the modal changes that require consumers to re-purchase their whole movie or music collections at the advent of every new and improved medium.
Somewhat ironic, perhaps, the show elevates junk by making it into art, at once a celebration and commentary on the technology that drives progress (or is it the other way around?) or, at any rate, holding it up for the viewer’s interpretation. But hey, that’s art.
So from the artists’ viewpoint, is it merely art for art’s sake, or is there some profound underlying meaning? That all depends on how you look at it, Palmeri said.
“It can have whatever meaning you want to throw on it, but it is what it is,” she said with a laugh.