ART: Future Tenant U, S and A

Miker's? What is that? Is it supposed to be Maker's Mark? I bet it is -- Mark

A trip to Pittsburgh's cultural district, quite the task for some students and confusing to many, becomes easier when one meets another headed in the same direction. By chance, however, that man on the bus just happened to be Thomas Sturgill, one of the six artists displaying their work at the destination gallery. It was a fortunate day to be coming to the gallery, as he noted that five of the six artists were giving talks about their art pieces.

The display at Future Tenant is titled "Buzzing out on U, S, and A: Unject, Subcanny, Ablime." This title is ambiguous and lends a sort of mystery to the work. Another ambiguity is the relationship between the six artists, a point that Sturgill attempted to give meaning to by explaining that while all installations deal with technology, the human body and communication, the pieces are meant to work independently of one another. The artists are six second-year Carnegie Mellon graduate students itching to share their artwork with Pittsburgh, all with different things to say.

Upon entering the rectangular industrial space, ones sees why Sturgill wasn’t able to answer many questions, mostly because no one would have had an idea of what to ask. Seven pieces stood crammed together without a unified theme. Each piece is able to stand strong on its own.

Placed directly in front of the door was Tiffany Sum’s “Impression Dimension,” a large and rather intimidating mechanic version of the silver needle impression toys you cleverly used to use to make an impression of your hand giving the finger as an adolescent. The piece is meant to physically display an abstract sense of time, space and the body’s form. The viewer is invited to step in between the glowing white needles, and the two panels then enclose the body which transforms the needles into a piece of temporary artwork.

In the right corner of the room is a large rotating miniature view of a forest, which is being filmed by a video camera on a tripod. The piece is Sturgill’s “Miniature Study” which is more coherent after stepping on top of William Carvis’s installation piece, where you will find the video played. The footage simulates a long repetitive drive through the park through the view of a car window.

The piece, which obstructs the direct linear view to the video screen, is called “Fall Preview.” You are unable to move without stepping atop the green Astroturf with cut out paper leavings printed with the words “the war on terror.” Rakes with shiny new price tags hang on the wall as though in a shopping mart.

Next on the journey through the gallery is Jesse Hulcer’s “Bad Luck Machine,” which combines several of our culture’s most predominant superstitions into one large installation piece. A BB gun aimed at a mirror sits atop an open ladder, which sits atop cracked cement. Connected to the ladder is a trash can filled with shards of broken mirror. A pulley opens an umbrella connected to the top step of the ladder. On the opening night of the show, September 3, a black kitten sat nearby the machine.

The next piece to catch the eye was Takehito’s minimalist "Light." To be an active participant in the piece, one stands hypnotized by the light bulb pendulum until Takehito reminds the viewer that this piece is not just to look at. Takehito invites his viewers to lie down on the white mattress placed below the light bulb. Lying down and staring, viewers are mesmerized with the intense light, which moves with increasing speed over the audience's bodies. Viewers are told to close their eyes; having done so they continue to be able to see the light through their eyelids; the impressions of color still remained present. Takehito wants people to “energize the act of seeing through a minimalist everyday object.” He successfully alters image perception though this piece, as the piece drastically changes from each vantage point.

Past "Light" sits "The Filling Station," Matt Barton’s memory of a Bozeman, Mont., bar recreated with cardboard. Ducking inside, the viewer enters a new world completely separated from the rest of gallery, and is confronted with a large screen playing back a rowdy country concert by his friend’s band, Johnny Steel and the Decline of the West. Matt walked by the piece, commenting that it sure smelled better than it did last Friday at the opening. In front of the display there are crushed cans of PBR, an empty fifth of Mikers amid scores of cigarette butts. His talk livens up the box, which deserted takes on a feel of isolation and nostalgia. Matt stands behind the cardboard bar table, bottles of booze drawn behind him in magic marker, and fondly speaks of the days he spent in Bozeman as some of the best days of his life. When viewers leave, it will be clear that they have spent a rather good day as well.

"Buzzing out on U, S, and A: Unject, Subcanny, Ablime" is available for viewing until September 25. The gallery is open 4 to 8 on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday and from noon to 8 on Friday and Saturday. It is located at 801 Liberty Ave.