Amy Yoes, Ezra Masch, Tim Schmidt: "Ultraviolet"
Amy Yoes, Ezra Masch, and Tim Schmidt conjure the extrasensory
Reviewed by Seth Orion Schwaiger, Fri., April 3, 2015
MASS Gallery, 507 Calles
Through May 2
Combining the aesthetics of industry, technology, and, more loosely, retrofuturism, "Ultraviolet" creates an alternative environment in which the breezy bright Austin spring is checked at the door in exchange for a half-lit Tron-like space (think 1982, not 2010).
Of the three artists exhibiting work, Amy Yoes most directly invokes that retrofuturistic aesthetic in her impressive large sculpture Encoder. With its point reaching up into the steel rafters high above the gallery floor, Yoes' colossus looks like a cross between an overgrown space invader and the stacks of white square pedestals one finds in any gallery storage room. The work is shot on both sides by projections of simple animations. Pale lines, dots, and grids more likely found on a Commodore 64 appear and move across the sculpture in a steady low frame rate. From Yoes' other works in the show (six small spatially coherent but geometrically abstract prints) one can guess that the sculpture was constructed from an interest in perspective, precise angles, light, and division of space. However, despite Encoder's crisply geometric, asymmetric form, it's hard not to attribute additional anthropomorphic qualities given the sculpture's double footing like giant robotic legs and its blinking, eyelike surfaces.
This work – and all the works in the show, for that matter – takes on a somewhat ominous personality, due in part to the loud audio spillover of Ezra Masch's installation. Partially contained by a small constructed space, Speaker Projection III implements the sounds of a jet engine recorded by fellow artist Alex Braidwood. The small temporary room with the aspect ratio of a shrunken train container is crammed with audio and visual equipment. Two video projectors aimed toward the middle of the room bounce fields of bright blue (default projector screens) off of reflective mylar and back onto the short walls on either end. In the middle of the room is a rig of sound equipment pulsing with a deep multifrequency thrum. The bass shakes the mylar, distorting each blue field, breaking the right angles and hard lines into organic curves, and thus translating the sound to visual information.
That blue-lit room is echoed in four works by Tim Schmidt. Here, tinted fluorescents and black light tubes activate architecturally based sculptures of welded steel, glass, wood, and stone partly inspired by the design community adjacent to Schmidt's Brooklyn studio. These works by Schmidt hint at the power of unseen but experienced forces, not just through the inclusion of black light (broad spectrum UV) but also through a very loose personal symbolism of mystic energies, as well as the physical hiding or dampening of light behind filters of colored glass, gels, and handcut vinyl.
The title of the show projects that sense of the unsensed onto the works by the other two artists as well. In Masch's installation, that idea expresses itself in the imagined extrasensory waveforms likely produced by the sound, unheard by us but absorbed by our bodies in the same way the mylar bends and shivers. In Yoes' sculpture, the unseen is embodied by the massively influential forces of machine intelligence, the progress of computer mechanics, and possibly even sentience itself. These three approaches summed up simply by one word, ultraviolet, encapsulates the power of the succinct exhibition of a few well-considered works one can currently find at MASS.