The Old Switcharoo

As the use of digital technologies in contemporary art practice becomes more prevalent, the urge to consider the shared vocabulary of the new media field and the broader culture becomes stronger. This desire appears to be among the driving forces in the conception of Code Switching, an upcoming group exhibition at the Red House Gallery in Venice, California. The show is organized by Quorum--a San Francisco-based collective of artists, curators, critics, and art dealers whose mission is to contribute to the region's intellectual community. It includes work by Bay Area artists Susannah Bettag, Jordan Essoe, Rodney Ewing, Raymond Haywood, Andy Diaz Hope, Andrew Junge, Trek Kelly, Tania Ketenjian, Paul Madonna, Michele Pred, Laurel Roth, Douglas Schneider, and Harry Siter and is organized by Quorum members Raman Frey and Svea Lin Vezzone. The curatorial statement notes that 'Linguists define code-switching as an alternation between two or more languages within a single conversation between people who have one or more language in common.' The question begged here, of course, is of what constitutes a language. While some universities have actually begun looking at computer languages as equivalent, in some ways, to 'natural languages,' there is also a reference here to the social codes that determin behavioral protocols. 'Often an unconscious act, code-switching is used for many purposes, including protection, identification, recognition, approval, and control,' say the organizers. Their argument for these digital and cultural overlaps is compelling and the work appears to be, as well. Code Switching will be on view August 2-September 16. - Irene Wu