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Sunday, April 24, 2011


Logan's BFA show, "Connective Laboratory," was strung along a horizon line - actual and metaphorical. On one wall were three photos - waterscape, desertscape, and architecturescape - the horizon line in each aligned with the others, connecting them on a level across the blankness of the wall. The contrast between upper and lower spaces - water and sky, wood and floor - was sharply defined in the flanking photos, but the middle one (taken, I assume, on the playa at black rock) was smudged and ambiguous, the border erased by a scrim of airborne sand. At the other end of the gallery was another smeary horizon, a square light array with a diffusion material in front of the lights, the bottom and top halves changing color every now and again, in response to data being collected in the gallery.

And the data being collected itself? Noise and temperature levels, both given a spike when people interacted with the two pieces in the center of the room: a pair of miniature tetherball courts, which you could operate sort of like a foosball table or pinball machine, using paddles to whack the ball on its spiral gyre around the pole, clockwise or counterclockwise crossing the horizonline marking the side of Player A and Player B. One tetherball table was completely human-powered, each player given a thin, rotatable slat that could slide closer or further from the pole; the other table's sliding paddles were pneumatically powered, the press of a red joystick button thwacking them forward, both players' paddles drawing from a common tank of air. People were especially eager to try the pneumatic one, probably due to the allure of technology and power, but the other was more fun to play - more easy to manipulate, and not prone to breakdown (Logan has a screwdriver on hand, and had to fiddle with the pneumatic table a few times during the opening).

In two dimensions, a horizon can be cleanly cut - in three, it invites ambiguity - it's not really the point of contact between earth and sky, it's an appearance of contact, a contingent relationship between viewer and vanishing point. In a show called "Connective Laboratory," it begs the point of connection. What is a "genuine" connection? What gets exchanged at a point of contact? In connection, what is merely apparent, and what is actual? And how dependent is that distinction upon the way contact is mediated - through play, through competition, through observation (both spectatorial and scientific), through winding and unwinding spirals, through pneumatics?

If that seems like a long series of question marks, it's because there's a genuine open-endedness in Logan's enterprise- his "Laboratory" was truly (if not rigorously) an experiment, a set of parameters with a non-prescribed outcome. The one thing that was a prescribed outcome, I think, was linked to the obvious desire for people to have a good time - to participate, and not just ruminate.

In the Q&A, there was much discussion about the context and depth of the work, probably best summed up by someone asking Logan if the show would still work if it were installed at Rookie's (a local watering-hole). To which he replied absolutely not - for the work to function, it had to be in an atmosphere that encouraged awareness - perhaps even (I'm extrapolating here) a bit of self-consciousness. Part of the appeal was one of transposition - Logan was asked "Now that you've brought a party to a gallery, would it interest you to bring art to a party?" - but for Logan, the draw of "situational aesthetics" required more than place-swapping. He explained the art-apparatus in the gallery as an assertion of himself, extending his role and personality beyond that of a host. For me, the most fertile part of the work was the fraught and not entirely resolved interface between invitation and experimentation. The notion that the audience becomes the artwork is relatively old hat by now - not passe, but an accepted and respected modality, one that could even be said to have developed its own traditions. Logan invited us to be the work, and to have a good time being it besides - but I most enjoyed the itch of the asterisk he placed there - that being the artwork also entailed being a specimen. The figurative pedestal was also a figurative petri dish.

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