Aaron Flint Jamison: Artist’s Space, September 15 – November 10, 2013

by Amanda York

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Portland-based artist Aaron Flint Jamison’s exhibition at Artist’s Space—his first solo in the U.S.—contains five sculptures of assembled electronic components and sleek industrial materials. However, these readymade qualities shed little light on the complex relationships between the interlinked artworks and exhibition visitors. Jamison exacerbates this mystery; he plays a game of hard to get with his viewers. The exhibition isn’t accompanied by didactic material in the gallery or online, and Jamison has asked gallery attendants to only provide his biographical information. Contrastingly, typically hidden aspects of artwork production, such as a spreadsheet of exhibition expenses, can be found online. These tensions in Jamison’s simultaneously enigmatic and forthcoming approach are (fittingly) both frustrating and deeply intriguing.

Jamison transected the gallery with looping extension cords that create a network between sculptures. One work is an electronic device on a tripod, within which a mirror rotates to blinkingly refract a red laser. Across the gallery, similarly mysterious equipment rests on a table with a bowl and a handmade book. The electronic portion of this arrangement connects to a laptop perched on a windowsill, and the screen states that a scan is taking place. Due to a total lack of descriptive materials, some sleuthing was necessary to connect the following dots: by researching the sculptural components’ visible manufacturing labels (the object perched on the tripod is a 3D scanner) and a floor plan of the exhibition found online (the scanner is moved throughout the space every couple of days), it seems that Jamison is taking 3D scans of the gallery from multiple viewpoints (which are loaded onto the computer). As the results of the scan aren’t on display, Jamison’s intentions aren’t clear, but to visit the gallery perhaps means to participate in an ongoing process of creation or—in the very least—to be recorded.  Prior to this exhibition, Jamison founded Yale Union, a contemporary art and publishing center in Portland, and in 2007 began the magazine Veneer with eighteen planned installments. Likewise, Jamison’s untitled Artist’s Space show could appropriately be called Veneer—much is hidden beneath the sculptures’ slick surfaces.  These works skillfully and poetically dissolve the fixed distinctions of viewer/viewed, finished/ongoing, obscured/shared, and fact/fiction.

Amanda York is a first-year MA candidate in Hunter College’s Art History program.

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