Panzer's tetrahedons are no bull
Reviewed by Wayne Alan Brenner, Fri., Feb. 24, 2012
'Jamie Panzer: Bullshit Detector'Co-Lab, 613 Allen, 300-8217
Through Feb. 25
Fact: Co-Lab was one of my Top 10 arts picks for last year. Not due to any specific show, but because of the sheer amount of exhibitions – about one every two weeks – mounted in that small Eastside venue. Because of the relentless experimentation with objects and presentations, the amount of work venue director Sean Gaulager and his friends put into the year's offerings.
Fact: Jamie Panzer's solo exhibition last year – not at Co-Lab but at Big Medium – was also among my Top 10s. Because his "You see ... Thing is ..." was, well, what I said then: "a triumph of wit and eye-searing creation." Now here's Panzer's newest endeavor, "Bullshit Detector," at Co-Lab for a week.
It's a show of one big piece, pretty much. Although there are resonant paper collages by Panzer on the walls of what you might call the lobby (or air lock) of Co-Lab, the main event in the main room is that single Bullshit Detector.
Look: There are three ziggurats that you can barely see in the darkened room, ziggurats like triple-tiered wedding cakes made from piles of newly dug earth constrained by chicken wire, each one at the point of some imaginary equilateral triangle. You can smell the freshness of the dirt in the close air. ("That's from three days of digging," says the artist, grimacing at the memory of it. "There's some manure in there.")
Supported in the center of each of the ziggurats is a wooden pylon that reaches to a height of maybe 7 feet; each pylon is tipped with an eyelet screw. In the center of the triangle defined by the ziggurats is an electric generator – or maybe it's just a terminal that draws power from the Co-Lab walls – in any case, there it is, at half the pylons' height, and from this power center come lengths of wire, the kind that heats bread in toasters, and these wires loop up and through the pylons' eyelets. The wires glow in the dark room, faintly buzzing, forming the orange outlines of a geometric solid in midair. It's like you're co-existing in some virtual space inhabited by one of the elements from the old Tempest arcade game.
Opinion: What a lovely, strange, and typically Panzerian structure to share a room with!
"It's a pyramid," breathes a visitor, staring at the bright wires.
"Well," says the artist from deep shadows, "it's a tetrahedron."
For any tetrahedron, as you may know, there exists a sphere such that the tetrahedron's vertices lie on the sphere's surface. For any artist, we might add, there exists a sphere of influence. And if there's ever any lying going on on that sphere's surface ... well, that's what a good bullshit detector is for, isn't it?