The artist's new digital animation are impressive, if safe.
Mon Sep 27 2010
Photograph: courtesy Lehmann Mau
Time Out Ratings :<strong>Rating: </strong>3/5
Jennifer Steinkamp's projected, computer-generated animations cross and recross the boundaries between the artificial and the organic, frequently resembling simulations of microscopic life or time-lapse films of protracted natural processes. They also suggest oversize screen savers, filling the walls with gaudy color and seemingly endless variations on impossible or inconsequential motion.
In her new series, "Premature," Steinkamp ditches the thrashing virtual trees that dominated her last show in favor of less overtly figurative imagery. Three works on view in the gallery's main space, and another in its long corridor, all feature tangles of mottled, ropey forms, each convulsing eerily under some mysterious impulse. The strands exist in a featureless space and remain within a limited field, but hint nonetheless at an infinite network infused with spirit and purpose.
Steinkamp herself describes these elements as meatlike, and it's hard not to think of them as conduits for bodily fluids or vital signals. Their irregular patterns and textures counteract the impression given by their electric coloration, that they are purely digital. But this is very far from being an attempt at imitating nature, as there's an art-historical allusion here, too: The projections' allover compositions of intermingled lines, and their wall-filling dimensions, nod to the style and scale of Abstract Expressionism. It's a connection that, as much as these works imply some potentially fascinating intersections with the realms of advanced computer science, biology and mathematics, keeps them finally—and rather too safely—within a long-established tradition of artistic aims.