Between Self And Soul: Synthetic Shorelines

at Durden and Ray, Los Angles (through December 1)
Reviewed by Genie Davis

If life is an ocean then art is a wave. The wave carrying this exhibition brings artists from Iceland and Los Angeles together in a dazzling exhibition that fuses elements of technology with images of sea and self.

Carrying this all a bit further, the body is made up of 60% water. An ocean is often referred to as a body of water. An artist’s work may be referred to as a body of work. Curated by Freja Eilif, gallerist at Ekkisens Art Space in Reykjavik, Iceland, the body of work contained in this exhibition offers insights described by the curator as exploring “relationship to self and coastal existence.”

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Kristín Morthens

Icelandic artists include Sara Bjorg, Freyja Eilif, Katrina Mogensen, and Kristin Morthens; from Durden and Ray, there is work by Dani Dodge, David Leapman, Sean Noyce, and Ty Pownall.

The guiding principal of the exhibition is exploration; the idea is to pass beyond boundaries, whether they are between countries or between self and soul.

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Kristín Morthens

Each work is infused with a profound spiritual quality that defines and refines what “self” actually means. Is it our intellect? Is it that indefinable quality known as spirit? Our innate capacity for exploration? Our ritualistic setting of boundaries? What happens if we put what we know — or rather what we think we know — aside? What if we dive into a world that in some respects borders on the psychedelic, on the place where, as the late American philosopher Terence McKenna says, “You are an explorer, and you represent our species, and the greatest good you can do is to bring back a new idea, because our world is endangered by the absence of good ideas. Our world is in crisis because of the absence of consciousness.”

In a very real way, our “self” is our consciousness, whatever we wish to believe that consciousness includes. Many of the artists here explore their own consciousness, and encourage viewers to explore theirs, with abstract art shaped in a variety of unique mediums.

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Freyja Eilíf, “Meditation Into Digital Dimensions”

An immersive experience, Freyja Eilif’s mixed media video installation “Meditation Into Digital Dimensions,” features a sculptural stool with the image of a coiled, checker-board patterned snake. Poised on that stool, viewers watch an immersive 11-minute video experience that leads them through a visual meditation of digital dimensions. The time passes quickly, as a meditative experience will, all colors and sensations, as you are instructed to see what your personal emotional desktop looks like, what your eyes/iPhone sees. You are led you into a new mental and emotional space. You emerge as if you had, like a character in Tron, plunged for a bit into a different consciousness, a technology of the mind. The image colors are vibrant, chartreuse and hot pink; yet the overall effect is of peace, serenity, floating in space.

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Sean Noyce, “Black Mirror”

Across the room, Sean Noyce’s “Black Mirror” uses an LCD monitor, web camera, custom code, and two way mirror under Plexiglas to create a different sort of immersion. The camera records images passing through the room, and if you stand still, you can watch your own, and others behind you, shift into ghostly, amorphous, yet somehow oddly recognizable silver-blue shapes. Not a timed experience, one can spend a solid number of minutes watching the shivery, alien-looking images form and dissolve. An anology, perhaps, for the ephemeral nature of human life, and the technology we have created that allows us to capture it for one whispery visual breath.

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Dani Dodge, “The pulse that rose and fell in the abyss”

Dani Dodge has created an installation that resembles translucent seashells stranded on a mirrored beach in “The pulse that rose and fell in the abyss.” As if abandoned in the pulse or beat of a wave, over 500 eyeglass lenses are scattered across a mirror placed on the floor. The mirror is shaped like the curves left behind in a puddle of sea on sand. Above the mirror, other lenses seem to drip down from the wall, caught on a spume of imagined wave. Leaning closer for a look, viewers will find themselves reflected back from the mirror. The piece touches on a wide range of meaning: there are so many different ways to see ourselves, through the lenses of glasses and vision, reflected in other people’s eyes, reflected in nature. We are also as transient as the titular pulse, as a figurative wave. We rise from the the darkness of birth, only to fall again into the abyss. But for a few glorious moments, we are seen; we reflect light; our bodies with their 60% water float through life before drifting again into a sea. It’s a work that can be viewed both in the gallery, and upon self-reflection, from many angles. . .

To read the rest of Davis’s review, go to Riot Material magazine: https://www.riotmaterial.com/durden-ray-synthetic-shorelines/

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RIOT MATERIAL is LA’s premier literary-cultural magazine with an eye on art, word, and forward-aiming thought. Check out our gallery on IG: @ riotmaterial.

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