Trisha Baga’s LOAF- A blurry eye exam, or the sourdough hippocampus concerns itself with the boundaries, particularly boundaries of dimensionality. For this solo exhibition running at Berlin’s Société from September 8 to October 15, the New York-based artist uses a range of media —including video, sculpture and installation —in works that are infused with a sense of semi-permeability between forms and concepts. Her videos especially, express this feeling of aesthetic and spatial displacement (and re-placement) most clearly in her use of 3D filming, where one moment the viewer is immersed in a street scene in New York, and out of nowhere in floats some form of digital detritus, a doughnut with sprinkles, for instance.
‘Ghost’ (2016) is shown in the spacious east-facing gallery, a feeling of never quite being anywhere, yet still existing in a physical —as opposed to fully virtual —space pervades. The video is something like a psychological travelogue, the viewer encounters families, cities, even elements of history as objects trespass and then come to dominate the range of vision. The stacking created by the 3D technology feeds forward into the actual material territory of the space. An actual desktop is positioned near the lower edge of the film, and shadows from the objects it supports meld with the shadows at the edge of the projection. Baga’s ‘Ghos’, then, presents something of a riposte to the easy fetishisation of a digital aesthetic; its interstitial character means that it has no genuine location, but, also, that it is not restricted in its capacity to interpose itself between the viewer and the world of objects, forces and territories.
The video in the northernmost room of the gallery is even more engaging. Consisting primarily of images of plants shot in the dark, the viewer enters through a curtain of plastic sheeting and is immediately placed in a thicket of a supremely invasive, yet also wholly inorganic species. Depending on one’s position, the plants reach out to you, recede, sometimes slash through other viewers nearby. The rough-hewn quality of the display serves to countermand the imperatives of a gesture toward the natural sublime. One stands amid boxes and bubble wrap haphazardly littering the corners of the room. This is a landscape from the age of the Amazon drone.
These installations seem to most fully realise the aims of the statement accompanying the exhibition which speaks of a “precarious equilibrium between the giving and receiving of form”. Though some of the ceramic works —notably the pieces in which a part of a magazine cover is overlaid by a sculpture referencing the cover’s image —continue the dialogue of dimensions with a similar deftness to the video/installation, the sheer number of them on display in a brightly lit room feel like a concession of some kind. One could argue that the distortions inscribed in the rather lo-fi objects in some way mimic the distortions of scale and pixelation of digital imagery. If this is true, then they foreground a materiality de-emphasised in the discourses that frequently attend discussions of digital art. Presented in such density, however, the tyranny of their sheer object-hood rather overwhelms the subtler arguments they may well have been making with their off-kilter shapes and placements. As Baga’s videos seem to argue, often an object’s greatest power lies in its uneasy relationship with its own materiality.**
Exhibition photos, top right.