Zach Blas, Queer Technologies, 2008
Zach Blas, Queer Technologies, 2008

June 16 – August 24, 2011

Curated by Christopher O’Leary and Zachary Blas

LACE is proud to present Speculative, a group exhibition curated by Christopher O’Leary and Zach Blas. Speculative will focus on new modes of art making and of presentation with an emphasis on the experiential, subversive, and tactical potentials for art in the 21st century. The projects included in this exhibition engage wildly diverse mediums from critical software, art-science, social practices, experimental video, wearable architecture, performance works and much more.

Featuring work by Casey Alt, Zach Blas, Jeff Cain, Micha Cárdenas & Elle Mehrmand, Xárene Eskandar, Michael Kontopoulos, Christopher O’Leary, Claudia Salamanca, and Pinar Yoldas, the exhibition takes a multiplicity of forms and makes use of a variety of technologies including digital video projection, sound devices, specific lighting and other digital media to address notions of design, science, business, sex, gender, death, politics, environmentalism and, most of all — the future.

Christopher O’Leary speculates about an increasingly dystopic vision of our future, as expressed through popular film, comics and literature. His work, Blocking the Exits, is a dynamically-edited, single-channel video project comprised entirely of still photographs that have been animated through morphing algorithms. Jeff Cain uses historical, botanical, and geographical research on the invasive mustard plant spread throughout California by Franciscan Monks to mark the El Camino Real to propose a 600 mile native biome restoration of the historic royal road. His installation will use documentation of original research and visualization of an imagined intervention to reveal both an optimistic and fatalistic representation of colonialism and the difficulties of undoing history. Xarene Eskandar investigates the idea of ‘the fold’ in origami-based clothing designs that relate the body to an unspoiled landscape. The forms themselves will be installed in conjunction with media documentation depicting their use.

Join us for the opening reception of Speculative on Thursday, 16 June 2011, 8-10 PM

Thursday 30 June, 2011
Performances by Zach BlasMicha Cárdenas, MAL IDEA (Michelle Lee), Elle Mehrmand, Christopher O’Leary, and Malcolm Smith.
Thursday 28 July, 2011
Panel Discussion with Christopher O’Leary, Zach Blas, Jack Halberstam, Rita Raley and Jordan Crandall.

Purchase an online copy of the exhibition catalogue from Lulu here.

Casey Alt is an artist whose work explores how interface mediates power and culture. Central to Alt’s practice is his critique of commercial design as the ascendant discipline for engineering social control and the techniques employed towards this end. Though primarily situating this investigation within the realm of computational media, Alt’s works often span multiple mediums, including software programming, design, installation, gaming, and performance. As an extension to his arts practice, Alt is also a frequent commentator on the ways computational technologies have transformed various forms of cultural production, writing on media practices as diverse as bioinformatics to architecture, 3D modeling programs to videogames. Currently based in Taipei, alt has held professorships in the Department of Art, Art history & Visual Studies at Duke University and in the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning & Preservation at Columbia University. See more at altcasey.com or vacillogix.com

Zach Blas is an artist and writer working at the intersections of networked media, queerness, and the political. His on-going project, Queer Technologies, is a collective that produces critical applications, tools, and situations for queer technological agency, interventions, and social formation. Zach has exhibited at the Foundation for Art and Creative Technology in Liverpool, England, Highways Performance Space in Santa Monica, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, Fe Arts gallery in Pittsburgh, File Electronic Language International Festival in Brazil, and the 2010 Arse Elektronika Festival in San Francisco, where he was the recipient of a Prixxx Arse Elektronika. He has participated in residencies on “Art and Resistance”  at the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics, Chiapas, Mexico, “On the Commons; or, Believing-Feeling- Acting Together” at the Banff Centre, Alberta, Canada, and “Devisualize” at the Medialab Prado, Madrid, Spain. Rhizome.org has recently interviewed him, and he has published in a Mínima, E-misférica, Version, and Schlossplatz³ and has articles forthcoming in The Fibreculture Journal, Women’s Studies Quarterly, Reclamations Journal, and networkpolitics.org. His work has been written about in Wired, Canon Magazine, and the South Atlantic Quarterly. He is one of the founding members of the Public School Durham and a PhD student in Literature, Information Science + Information Studies, Visual Studies, and Women?s Studies at Duke University. He also holds an MFA from UCLA, a Post-Baccalaureate certificate from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and a BS from Boston University. Visit www.zachblas.info or www.queertechnologies.info for more information.

Jeff Cain is an artist and designer who works with sculpture, video, sound, photography, and performance.  His studio, the Shed Research Institute, is an umbrella organization for independent research, public art projects, and site-specific design projects.  Cain received his MFA in Studio Art from Cal Arts. His works have been shown at the Musee d’art Modern de Ville de Paris and Kyiv’s Center for Contemporary Art, as well as locally at the Getty Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, UCI University Art Gallery, Track 16, and the 18th Street Arts Center. Cain’s work was written about in the Getty’s catalog California Video, SoccaS’ book The Aesthetics of Risk, and in Art in America.  His writing has been published in Art Journal and numerous exhibition catalogs and online journals. Cain has made several radio based projects, including, a project that decodes the LAPD digital radio and rebroadcasts it on the LAPD’s original AM station, and  a broadcast radio technology called RHZ radio that is  a hybrid online and broadcast infrastructure that techno-logically obeys the FCC broadcast law but allows legal neighborhood radio stations without a permit. RHZ radio was nominated for the Prix Ars Electronica in 2005.  He has worked as faculty at USC Roski School of  Fine Arts, Calarts, Cal State Fullerton, SCI-ARC, and Whittier College. See more at shedresearch.net

Micha Cárdenas is an artist/theorist whose transreal work mixes physical and networked spaces in order to explore emerging forms of queer relationality, biopolitics and DiY horizontal knowledge production. She will be starting her PhD at the interdivisional program in Media Arts and Practice (iMap) at University of Southern California in Fall 2011. Micha is the interim Associate Director of art and technology for UCSD’s Sixth college in the Culture, Art and Technology program.  She is an artist/researcher with the UCSD School of Medicine, CRCA and the b.a.n.g. lab at Calit2. She was previously a lecturer in the Visual Arts department and Critical Gender Studies program at UCSD. Her recent publications include Trans Desire/Affective Cyborgs, with Barbara Fornssler, from Atropos Press, “I am transreal”, in Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation from Seal Press and “Becoming Dragon: a Transversal Technology Study” in Code Drift from CTheory. Her collaboration with Elle Mehrmand, “Mixed Relations,” was the recipient of the UCIRA emerging Fields award for 2009. She has exhibited and performed in biennials, museums and galleries in cities around the world including Los Angeles, San Diego, Tijuana, New York, San Francisco, Montreal, Egypt, Ecuador, Spain, Saas-Fee, Switzerland, Dublin, Ireland and many other places. Her work has been written about in publications including art21, the associated press, the LA Times, CNN, BBC world, Wired  and Rolling Stone Italy. Visit http://transreal.org for more info.

Xárene Eskandar is a researcher and designer with a diverse background ranging from fashion and automotive design to architecture and live audio-visuals. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Design from University of Cincinnati, Department of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning, her MFA from Design Media Arts, UCLA, and is currently working on her phD in Media Arts and Technology, UCSB. Drawing upon cultural anthropology, her research is focused on the evolution of the symbiotic relationship of technology and the human with the aim of creating crossover points into dimensions and ecologies referred to as ‘utopia’, whether technological, architectural or social. Her interest lies in questions that debunk prescriptions within either of these categories, and to instead offer neolexia for our future hybrid bodies. She is an avid collector of books, sand and cat whiskers. www.xarene.com or tentativearchitecture.net 

Michael Kontopoulos is a Los Angeles based artist and educator. After studying electronic and time-based art at Carnegie Mellon University, he went on to receive his MFA in Design and Media Arts from UCLA. He has exhibited solo and collaborative projects in galleries, festivals and conferences in the U.S., Asia and Europe, including the Santa Monica Glow Festival, the Sundance Film Festival, and the TED conference. he was the winner of a 2010 Rhizome Commission for Emerging Artists, sponsored by the New Museum (NYC). Currently, Michael teaches electronic media courses at USC and Cal State Long Beach. www.mkontopoulos.com

Elle Mehrmand is a performance artist and musician who uses the body, electronics, video, sound and installation within her work. She is the singer and trombone player of assembly of Mazes, a music collective who creates dark, electronic, middle eastern, rhythmic jazz rock. Elle is currently an MFA candidate at UCSD, and received her BFA in art photography with a minor in music at CSULB. She is a collective member of the Electronic Disturbance Theatre 2.0 and the b.a.n.g. lab, and is a researcher at CRCA <Center for Research and Computing in the Arts> at UCSD. Her work has been internationally shown at venues such as LACE (Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions), the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD), Highways Performance Space, Orange County Museum of Art (OCMA), UCLA Freud Playhouse, Cecut, The Nevada Museum of Art, and the Gallery of the Nat’l College of Art and Design. She has been discussed in Artforum, art21, the LA Times, Juxtapoz Magazine, wireD, Networked Performance, the LA & OC Weekly,  Furtherfield.org, the cityBeat, and Vice Magazine. Visit www.assemblyofmazes.com

Christopher O’Leary is an artist who works in video, photography and installation while employing a variety of digital and new media processes. He explores conceptions of futurity and superpower as depicted in science fiction, comic book culture and history at large. His projects conflate these genres with the conventions of video art and photography using the human form for its performative and embodied qualities while borrowing from the multiverse of archetypes and themes from sci-fi. His research focuses on fictions of human potential and atemporal narratives, using them as critical mirror to the anxieties of civilization. The “super-body” (the hero’s body, the cyborg’s body, the mutant’s body) comes to embody cultural fears and escape fantasies engendered by cycles of innovation, progress and collapse. Christopher has shown his work in Seattle, Los Angeles, Belgrade, Istanbul, Rome and Torun, Poland. In 2009 he held his first solo exhibition in Rome Italy at ALI gallery. He recently exhibited in the show Spaceship Earth at the center for contemporary art in Torun, Poland. He holds an appointment as Lecturer of Digital photography at UCLA’s Department of Design Media Arts. Christopher received his MFA from UCLA and his BFA from the University of Washington. He lives in Los Angeles, CA. www.chrisoleary.net

Claudia Salamanca is an artist and assistant professor at Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Colombia.  Her art practice and theoretical research explore the relationship between death and the body within the political operations they unfold the visualization of violence. Currently she is  a doctoral candidate in the Rhetoric Department at UC Berkeley. She holds an M.A. in Science, Technology and Culture from the Liberal Studies Department at Rutgers University and a B.F.A from the Universidad de Los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia. Her work has been shown in Colombia, Brazil, Canada, United States, Germany, and Spain, among others. Visit www.laclaud.com

Pinar Yoldas is a Turkish artist, designer, neuro- enthusiast. Building on her varied background in art,  architecture and  science, her work is a series of multi- modal experiments on the human sensorium. Lately,  she has been designing synthetic biological systems as a living critique of our society. Pinar has a BArch from METU , MS from ITU , MA from Istanbul Bilgi University and an MFA from UCLA. Her residencies include the MacDowell Colony, Ucross Foundation, VCCA, Duke University and University of Minnesota.

In-kind support for Speculative has been generously provided by the UCLA Department of Design Media Arts and the Center for Research in Computing and the Arts (CRCA) at UCSD.


Speculative Press Release