the sky is unfolding under you Press Release
April 7—May 5, 2001
Opening on Saturday, April 7th, the gallery will present a solo exhibition by the Los Angeles-based artist Diana Thater. This will be the artist's third exhibition at the gallery and coincides with Knots+ Surfaces, a new work at the Dia Center for the Arts (through January 2002). Thater's work is also featured in Public Offerings at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (April 1-July 29); Bitstreams at the Whitney Museum of American Art (through June 10); Arcadia at the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; and the opening exhibition of the Museum für Gegenswartskunst in Siegen, Germany (May 6-November 4).
The works in this exhibition bring together and expand on the central themes of the artist's work, which focuses on the examination of video as a medium–both in its composition of how an image is made (the artist oftens leaves the projectors and laserdisc players on the floor in the middle of an exhibition space), and also examining the what (for example, the complex casting of both the natural world in some mediated form whether using "professional" animals from Hollywood movies, or breaking down images into the colors of the video spectrum). Thater deconstructs the technological aspects of the medium itself as well as its use of imagery, and in doing so, projects how unnatural the natural world can be portrayed, as in her installations China and Electric Mind.
Another important theme in the artist's work has been the use of the architectural space and its interaction with video and the images it produces. By employing colored gels on the walls, ceilings, windows, and doorways of exhibition spaces, Thater breaks down the walls of the white cube and the darkened black spaces made infamous by other video artists such as Bill Viola, and instead transforms the exhibition space by casting the walls in a subtle gradation of a single color akin to a color field canvas. For this show, the artist will treat the windows of the façade with a mauve window gel and the walls of each gallery space have the following succession of colors: blue, green, and orange. Within each room, images of birds, trees, and flowers are portrayed either on monitors that are left as primary structures/monolithic sculptures or projected onto the wall itself. The scale of each natural phenomena is depicted opposite to its actual size: so things that are big are seen small; things that are small are seen large; and the outside is presented inside the gallery space.
Ultimately, Thater's work uses the language of painting to bring the medium of video full circle–back to the first pictorial portrayal of animals inscribed on the flat surface of the cave walls–but with the awareness that even then the depiction of the natural world is still one that is a mediated one. "It is to Thater's credit that she accepts the mediation of nature as yet another of the contraints of high-tech art practice, and that rather than "reconnecting" her audience with nature, in some sort of shamanistic ritual, she instead uses the tools at her disposal to construct evermore impossible flowers in the field of technology, fashioning divergent cyborganic media ecologies." [Peter Lunenfeld]