NOVEMBER 12, 2009
The places where we simply wait are the subject of Transfer Lounge, at Space Gallery.
BY LUCY LEITNER
The transfer lounge is a state of limbo -- the vacuum of doctors' waiting rooms and baggage claims, where exist few distractions except the thoughts of those in a forced state of delay. Whether they wait for luggage or a life-altering diagnosis, the very act of waiting in a place designated solely for such inactivity becomes an existential purgatory.
Like an electronic-art equivalent of Five Easy Pieces, Transfer Lounge offers various interpretations of how we find meaning during those few moments that we ever slow down.
"It's about identity," says curator Carolina Loyola-Garcia.
The show is a collaboration between Loyola-Garcia and Ima Pico, who organized an identical show in Valencia, Spain. With graphic renderings, photographs, collage, installation and audio/visual media on monitors and computer screens, the bilingual exhibit can seem part art gallery and part Best Buy. Each artist offers a unique interpretation of bodies, rest and motion.
Ayanah Moor's "Travelodge: South Africa" is exactly that: a video triptych of the South African landscape, with each screen taking the viewer through a different scene at a rapid pace. Abraham Martinez's "Cronotopos" journeys through time, with a series of photographs of modern locations with historical photographs of the same landmarks superimposed. Hyla Willis and Jen Morris's "Transfer Points" is a highly literal video of an airport baggage-claim schedule, with a string of ads along the bottom of the screen offering various health-clinic advertisements. The implicit comparison is between two artificial spaces, airports and hospitals, both of which enforce waiting and reflection.
David Maroto's "Patchwork Man" explores this idea of the internal quest for identity, using the human face as the mechanism for travel. Three voices tell the narrative of a man whose identity is fragmented after an accident, leading to an existential crisis. In a video collage projected onto a wall, the face changes, feature by feature, fleetingly resembling Adult Swim's Robot Chicken animation.
The most gripping and enigmatic piece in the show is Filippos Tsitsopoulous's live-action video "Craze Project." It's as if the pirates in Davy Jones' locker were tortured and forced to communicate their kidnapper's ransom to the camera. But through the headphones, the man with the octopus tentacles and other marine life on his head shouts like a monster-movie mad scientist after he's finally been thrown into a padded cell: "I'm in the dark here!"
Loyola-Garcia's "Bizarre Encounters," a photo collage, focuses on identity within a technologically based world where anonymity is the norm. Though the characters in each collage are silhouettes superimposed upon the graffitied urban landscape filled with the "visual noise" of road signs, she gives them written words adapted from donated e-mails, text messages, online chats and letters.
"It's interesting to me that the ways of communicating have changed so much, but the content remains the same, about longing to be part of a network," Loyola-Garcia says.
As we blindly walk through streets both foreign and familiar, rapidly traversing the charted territories of the physical and cyber realms, our bodies in a perpetual state of motion, the only constant is the self.
Transfer Lounge continues through Nov. 21. (Artist talk: 6 p.m., Wed., Nov. 11.)
Space Gallery, 812 Liberty Ave., Downtown. 412-325-7723 or www.SpacePittsburgh.org