Samantha Fickel’s “interspace” at Stuart & Co. is not observed so much as experienced; not moved through so much as immersed in, awash in the omnipresent medium of the day—god!, it’s everywhere; on your mind, in our air, in your hand, in your home, on your thigh, in your eyes, suffused through every aspect and dimension, the digital milieu in which modern life exists, its matrix (ugh, so to speak), the long dark shadow of the dying sun spilling across Silicon Valley—which she has so kindly taken the time to gut, hang, make manifest and literally raise, like, both in consideration and off the floor, a Magneto attack.
Fickel conjures the ghosts hidden within the machines and materials around us, softly and unnervingly lifting the thin veil which covers the ever-more-liminal space between technology and the body, a societal membrane invisible in its breadth. Across bands of fabric the ichor of the digital deities spreads, blood in water, simple bars of light transmuted into histological slides of neural nets—this is the new brain—or the sun-dappled bottom of a pool of mercury, uncanny creeping ambulations of ethereal sci-fi spirits whose forms are shaped by the act of the observation, by light, motion, proximity, touch. The ostensibly blank televisions, too, are nothing without you and without Fickel, who has kindly suspended their offal, the divining strips via which restriction leads to revelation, as peering through the veil unveils the cephalopodic undulations which hypnotically dance upon them. In requiring an entire being’s worth of movement for its kinesiological user interface, Fickel’s installations more resemble a seance—including in their open-ended (open source?) and non-binary messages and conclusions—than the more polemical works which usually take on the subject of humanity and technology, zeroes and ones, a tendency to veer toward hagiography or histrionics, saints or Sarah Connors. What Fickel understands is that in the yawning maw of the Valley is where most of her observers reside, equally vibrant on one side of a screen as another. In rending that screen, “interspace” brings tantalizingly close together the corporeal and digital worlds. (B. David Zarley)
Samantha Fickel’s “interspace” shows through July 28 at Stuart & Co., 2250 West Ohio.