Friday, October 19

Online artists tackle "AER" quality through exhibition

Belching through the city of Aachen in Germany on huge Mercedes-Benz flatbeds, Eve Andrée Laramée's "Parks on Trucks" is just one of the works shown in the "AER Project", an exhibition curated and released today by Andrea Pollie at Hunter College in New York.

Other standouts include Translator II: Grower, by Sabrina Raaf, a Mars-like rover with a much more down to earth mission, to monitor and visualise levels of CO2 in a room. Raaf balances what could be a patronising, overly-scientific piece with her execution - the robot draws grass along the walls with childlike glee, each blade corresponding to current carbon dioxide amounts.

My favourite was SuperGas by SuperFlex, a "simple, portable biogas unit that can produce sufficient gas for the cooking and lighting needs of an African family." Visually strong, the huge orange blog resembles a giant Claes Oldenberg piece. But more interesting was the stance towards the "art", shifting the traditional concept from representation to tool, a practical object that invites participation and heavy use - deriving as much from the fields of engineering, science, and agriculture as contemporary art. Currently SuperGas is being tested in the field in Cheing Mai, Thailand.

Unfortunately after very tangible pieces like SuperGas and Parks on Trucks, works like
Amy Balkin's Public Smog appear overly conceptual at best, pretentious and ineffectual at worst. And while the project's page disclaims that "Public Smog is no substitute for direct action", the piece requires too much suspension of reality to even work as an exercise in raising awareness.

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