Somewhere Out There

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"Artificial World," a two-week exhibition on view at New York's Mountain Fold, assembles works by six Japanese and American artists that explore "ideas of made-up, artificial, or simulated worlds." Visually, the show could not be more eclectic -- shelves of compact discs, knit objects, sprawling fabric paintings and gelatinous sculptures populate the small gallery. Common to many of the works, however, is an interest in the social and creative parameters of virtual space. Ben Fino-Radin, for example, has struck upon a neat, if somewhat twee, techno-meets-craft aesthetic vocabulary. In wall installations like Potience Module (2008), discreet, knit objects (largely depicting computer iconography, including code, mouse icons and the much-reviled hourglass) aggregate in symmetrical, totemic structures. Strips of black tape become disciplinary intermediaries in Aki Goto's big, energetic wall piece (Untitled, 2008), linking fabric and canvas paintings of cats with small, exquisite drawings in graphite and pen. The strongest of the latter presents a humorous take on virtual communities, equally steeped in the visual language of early-80s arcade games and the urban-abstraction of Mondrian's Broadway Boogie Woogie (1942-3), as small, smiling heads form points within webs of overlapping lines. While these and most of the exhibition's other works settle on shallow inquiry - at times to their benefit - Masaru Aikawa's My 25 CDs (2008) strikes a deeper chord. Citing an interest in Benjamin and Warhol and a concern for the status of the artwork in the digital era, Aikawa has "passionately and respectfully duplicated," a cappella, twenty-five of his CDs. Aikawa's heartfelt vocal imitation of the ambient electronics of Kraftwerk's Autobahn provides the most hysterical treat. On a broader level, Aikawa makes a serious comment on twenty-first century virtual consumption, by means of his self-portrait as strange, irreverent fan. - Tyler Coburn

Image: Ben Fino-Radin, Process NG Unit, 2008