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Winnipeg
Steven Leyden Cochrane
Nicolas Sassoon at al at Plug In ICA, Winnipeg
August 11, 2015

If nothing else, Plug In ICA deserves credit for its take on low-key summer programming. Over ten weeks, while the main gallery is given over to the annual Summer Institute and a lively exhibition by visiting faculty, it’s rolling out a series of short animations that resemble nothing so much as vintage screensavers – hypnotic, headache-inducing abstractions by Vancouver-based French artist Nicolas Sassoon.

Viewable online and on the lobby’s substantial four-screen array, Nature Falls comprises five hard-edged, procedurally generated patterns, all rendered in a restrictive, web-safe palette. Each animation refers back to the natural world, however, with meaningless data visualization giving way to sun-dappled, glitchy water and undulating, pixilated atmospherics.



Nicolas Sassoon, Sunny Lands

Despite effects that bring to mind a malfunctioning game console, Sassoon mostly sidesteps the nostalgic posturing that’s come to characterize “post-Internet” art and canonical New Media’s dated futurism. For better or worse, Sassoon’s use of technology, like his putative Romantic embrace, implies no especial qualification or critique. While he borrows from Minimalism’s perceptual concerns and might be at home on first-gen Conceptualism’s mystic fringe, what we get is abstracted, awestruck 19th Century landscape optimized for in-browser viewing.

The woozy-making patterns are evocative in their own right, but Plug In has commissioned responses by artists and writers for each of the five installments. The resulting shifts in perspective help differentiate the works from those fibre-optic waterfall pictures you might buy at an underperforming shopping mall, though the original resemblance is probably more a feature than a bug.



Nicolas Sassoon & Alex Quicho, Sunny Lands (animated gif by Steven Leyden Cochrane)

Simply tweaking the existing parameters, Alex Snukal rotates Out My Window #1 ninety degrees, shrinks it, and tiles it, appending an audio analog in the form of a vertiginous Shepard tone (a sound illusion in which a collection of tones seems to ascend in pitch indefinitely). Alex Quicho enriches Sunny Lands with a text that teases olfactory and tactile responses, at once heightening and betraying original’s bloodless optics. Remaining contributors include Tiziana La Melia, Jinhan Ko, and Andrew Berardini. This summer series comes to a close September 13.


Plug In ICA: http://plugin.org/exhibitions/2015/nature-falls-nicolas-sassoon
Nicolas Sassoon: Nature Falls continues until September 13


Steven Leyden Cochrane is an artist, writer, and educator based in Winnipeg, where he contributes weekly exhibition reviews to the Free Press. He is Akimbo’s Winnipeg correspondent and can be followed @svlc_ on Twitter.

 

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