Team (gallery, inc.) is pleased to announce a show of new work by New York-based artist Tabor Robak. Entitled Fake Shrimp, the exhibition will run from 03 May through 21 June 2015. Team is located at 83 Grand Street, between Wooster and Greene. Concurrently, our 47 Wooster Street space will house a three-person show of paintings by Andrew Gbur, Jaya Howey and David Ratcliff.
Tabor Robak presents four new CGI works, each wrought with gravitas, humor, technical ingenuity and an implausible combination of rigorous discipline and unbridled creativity. Robak often grounds his imagery in identifiable allusions, appropriating elements from real-world and digital sources, the likes of which include creative suites, video games and science fiction movies, as well as visions tests, animals and quotidian consumer goods. Compared to the earlier pieces, the referents here are more influence than quotation, digested and synthesized by the artist’s thoroughly amalgamating process. The pairing of disparate subjects and the non-interactive recontextualization of software visuals effect a defamiliarization that renders the videos and their surfaces inextricably conjoined – content and canvas merged. The artist’s increasing concern with technological artifice – computers, programs, code and, particularly, screens – has led his practice away from any a posteriori medium towards a neoteric mode of making, one utterly unique to him. This exhibition is an ecstatic celebration of computer-generated imagery, as well as an agnostic exploration of its distorting capacity to falsely cast citizen in the role of godlike creator.
Where’s My Water? consists of a close crop on a series of “pen cups,” displayed contiguously over twelve 55-inch monitors. The video is characterized as much by the misleading mundanity of those cups as by frequent instances of spontaneity: its dynamic transitions often feature acts of destruction, or other unexpected, seemingly non-sequitur imagery. In order to be viewed at such a grand scale, the images are rendered in excruciating, hyper-real detail. The choice to reserve this grandiose treatment for this particular subject matter is due to the latter’s workaday practicality – Robak has recently come to conceive of his own practice as a job like any other, requiring diligence, organization and an enormous quantity of time. Writing implements are the tools of artists as well as accountants, writers as well as workers, here monumentalized.
Drinking Bird (Seasons), the sole single-channel piece, shows churning patterns of abstract color, reminiscent of a liquid with constantly changing viscosity. The work traverses the duration of the Western calendar year by way of color palettes associated with national holidays. Some of the referenced dates are evident – the red and green of Christmas that appears towards the loop’s finish, for example – while others are obscure or completely invented – Grandparents’ Day and Save the Rhino Day do not have recognizable color schemes. The work also features a live aspect, connected to WiFi in order to display a CNN news ticker at the bottom of the screen. Like all of the artist’s work, Drinking Bird is ambidextrous: nebulous but eloquent, operating simultaneously on manifold conceptual planes. On one level, we may understand the work as an abstract painting for a digital age; on another, Robak has created a visual manifestation of temporality on his own terms.
For Newborn Baby, Robak utilizes the relatively new technology of transparent monitors in order to create a work with multiple layers as well as channels. By placing the aforementioned screens in front of equally sized LED televisions, the artist creates actual perspectival depth, while also drawing further attention to the work’s flatness and artifice. The video appears abstract, even psychedelic, but it is far from arbitrary: the piece explores our perceptions and ways of understanding sight itself, taking queues from vision tests, blacklight posters, the spots of muted color we see when we close our eyes. Robak is interested not only in the innovative modes of making allowed for by technology, but the new ways of seeing they often necessitate.
Hung in a space of its own, Butterfly Room consists of one hundred small screens arranged in a ten by ten grid, each with a dedicated miniature computer from which an animation of a fictional cellular organism emanates. The creatures morph with time, changing in color and becoming increasingly complex. The sheer abundance of constantly changing visual content endows the work with a prodigious dynamism, a sense of actual vivacity. The “evolution” of the forms is attributed to Robak’s increasing comfort over time with the software. The piece explicates differences and similarities between the digital and real, the synapses and fissures between the artist’s creative act and the development of the natural world.
This is 28-year-old Robak’s second solo show. He has also been featured extensively in group exhibitions at galleries and institutions both stateside and abroad, including the 12th Lyon Biennale; Palazzo delle Esponizioni, Rome; MoMA: PS1, New York; Kunsthalle Düsseldorf; Migros Museum, Zürich.
Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10am to 6pm and Sunday, Noon to 6pm. For further information and/or photographs, please call 212 279 9219.