Digital prints on canvas & light boxes, 30 x 20
December 12, 2012
AFTER CARS is a photographic documentation of digital sculptures created by Coll.eo within Garry’s Mod v. 13. GMOD is a sandbox physics game based on a modified Source Engine originally introduced in 2006.
Alternating a surrealist sensibility with a dark, cerebral sense of humor, AFTER CARS evokes a distinct 1970s pre-apocalyptic vibe, whose aesthetics of disorder, destruction, and devolution was perfectly captured by the cover art of seminal Pelican paperbacks like Vance Packard’s The Waste Makers (1966 edition) and Terence Bendixson's Instead of Cars (1977 edition). What makes AFTER CARS uncanny is the juxtaposition of the “natural” and the inorganic in a completely virtual. What are these automobiles doing in a pastoral, idyllic meadow surrounded by distant hills? Were they kidnapped from their “natural” setting (i.e. the city, seen from a distance) and then killed, execution-style? Is the viewer visiting a car cemetery? Or some kind of auto purgatory?
Coll.eo’s car landscapes pay homage to John Chamberlain, whose work is clearly evoked, but never pedantically reproduced. Conceptually, AFTER CARS is indebted to Ant Farm’s seminal work Cadillac Ranch (1974), an installation set up to the west of Amarillo, Texas near Interstate I-40 consisting of used and wrecked Cadillac automobiles dating from 1949 to 1963, nose-first in the ground, at an angle corresponding to that of the Great Pyramid of Giza. Ant Farm’s seminal sculpture is explicitly referenced in Untitled (After Ant Farm) (2012).
A second major inspiration comes from German artist Dirk Skreber, whose automobile sculptures have consistently flirted with the catastrophic, the accident, and the disaster. Skreber’s crumbled body of a car following a violent accident and wrapped around a pole was reinterpreted as Pole Dancer (After Dirk Skreber) (2012). Skreber’s fascination for the wreckage as a site of fiction/friction and as a totemic artifact is also at play in several AFTER CARS sculptures.
Spindle (After Dustin Shuler) references Shuler’s 1989 installation consisting of a fifty foot spike impaling eight cars. The artwork was located in the car park of Cermak Plaza shopping center in Berwyn, Illinois until its demolition in 2008. Shuler’s Spindle featured (from top to bottom) a red 1967 Volkswagen Beetle; a silver 1976 BMW New Class;a blue 1981 Ford Escort; a 1973/4 green Mercury Capri; a white over blue 1978 Ford Mustang: a maroon 1981 Pontiac Grand Prix, a 1979/90 light yellow Ford LTD and 1979 (or 1981) black Mercury Grand Marquis. The sculpture was eventually disassembled on May 2 2008.
One More Thing (After Barry McGee) celebrates San Francisco-based bomber known as Twist. The title of the piece references a landmark exhibition at Deitch projects, where McGee showed several overturned vans and semi-trucks amidst a sea of discarded objects - spray cans, rugs, rubbish, and more.
Eternal life (After Erik Smith) playfully reproduces Smith’s Who, Among You, Deserves Eternal Life? (2008). Two totaled full-sized late 1970s to 1980s sedans, one black, one white, a reengaged in a virtual conversation. What makes this home particularly striking is the setting: a pastoral landscape instead of a conventional gallery space.
Prodigy (After Betsabeé Romero) alludes to the Mexican artist’s ingenious use of rubber tires for sculptural purposes. In Romero’s works, the emphasis is on the materiality of this object, its natural roots and social exploitation. Here, the Prodigy-branded tire is suspended mid-air, in a gravity-less simulated world.
Although AFTER CARS’ virtual readymades exist within the confines of the screen, their visual power haunts the viewer in the so-called RL. Their representations, displayed as tangible C-prints on canvas and light boxes, are meant as transitional objects between the digital and the analog thus connecting two separate, but contiguous realities.
COLL.EO is Colleen Flaherty and Matteo Bittanti
San Francisco, December 12, 2012