Use Your Illusion

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Damon Zucconi, Towards Equillibrium, 2007

Damon Zucconi is a New York-based artist active in the "pro surfer" scene, having participated in both Supercentral and Nasty Nets, but his solo work is more clean-style than his dirt-style counterparts and might more easily be compared to Berlin-based artists AIDS-3D. All are part of a younger generation of artists who came of age with new media and have arrived at a particular fulcrum with respect to both celebrating the utopianism of technology and critiquing its dystopian failures. Next week, Zucconi's first solo show will open at Prato, Italy's Project Gentili gallery. Entitled "Presented as the Problem," the show is organized around the principles of diagnoses and prescriptions and draws on the distinction between treating symptoms versus underlying problems. The artist's approach is thus a rather tactical one, looking for the root impetus for cultural artifacts while also observing the cycles of recursion that swirl around the repetition of pop objects and scenarios. The show includes sculpture, video, and prints that seek to augment "classical dialectics of seeing and believing with eight meditations on contemporary visual culture." According to the gallery, "Each of the works finds temporary equilibrium between the poles of mystification and demystification--image as illusion and illusion as material fact." These works include the mysteriously titled / \ \ / which is a square mirror hung like a diamond with a Blade Runner: Final Cut poster wrapped around it from the back like an origami throwing star, and the eponymous centerpiece, "Presents Itself as the Problem," which is a novelty persistence of vision alarm clock whose digital readout displays only the message "I Want To Believe." X-Files viewers will appreciate this famous message of hope. Zucconi will also show a new video animation, Untitled (SONY, Lateral) which flips the axis on his earlier Untitled (SONY) piece--a work that turns a pair of dithering beer goggles on the tech manufacturer's logo in such a way as to invoke Baudrillard's famous statement about the map now preceding the territory in postmodern culture-- a theory often applied by scholars of the Matrix trilogy! Meanwhile, this emphasis on axes is a signature in Zucconi's work. He did, afterall, coin the name of Project Gentili's earlier "Pole Shift" show, and in this solo exhibition he presents two variations on this theme in the form of visual "averages" with both Towards Equilibrium, postcards "made from a photo sourced from a wallpaper mural that depicts two picturesque streams converging," and Venus de Milo (Hologram, Center), a print of a photo of a hologram (what would Baudrillard say about this reproduction of a reproduction of a reproduction?) in which each layered image of the famous sculpture "has been duplicated and rotationally blurred then 'differenced' with the original photograph." Both projects take a deeper look at their subject though the act of flattening. The key to treating problems versus symptoms is that a surface-level treatment will always result in a recurrence of the problem. As an exercise in "presenting the problem," Zucconi's exhibition attempts to draw out the tendency for conflict to endure if not properly recognized. - Marisa Olson

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