I-Ting Hou in “Preliminary Study: RSI–T” Curated by Naomi Lev

I-Ting Hou in “Preliminary Study: RSI–T” Curated by Naomi Lev

SLAG Gallery (56 Bogart Street, New York, NY, 11206)
Exhibition Dates: May 16 – June 15, 2014
Opening Reception: May 16, 2014, 7 -9 PM
Gallery Opening Hours: Thursday – Saturday, 1 – 6 pm

“Preliminary Study: RSI – T” is a group exhibition that will take place at SLAG Gallery in Brooklyn, New York. The show which will open to the public on May 16, 2014, and will be comprised of art works that relate to today’s technological challenges and the evolution of the body in relation to these rapid changes.

The title of the exhibition originated with a preliminary research of the subject matter, which is an initial exploration via medical and scientific researches. In the last decade, technology has appeared in our lives in an extremity. We notice an accumulation of long hours sitting in front of the computer screens, I-phones and I-Pads, social media accounts, and other operating devices (more recently google glasses, Wii, and more). As in ancient days, when man was physically built to hunt and gather food, today our bodily operating systems are being adapted to the increasingly growing technological demands. This very recent evolution has not only influenced our bodily functions and physical attributes but has also an overwhelming affect on our thinking process and perception of time.

RSI – Repetitive Strain Injury, is a clinical term for “injuries to the musculoskeletal and nervous systems that may be caused by repetitive tasks, forceful exertions, vibrations, mechanical compression, or sustained or awkward positions.” The “T” in the title refers to “Technology,” and the current exhibition will examine the awkward state of recent and future change in a contemporary tech-savvy reality.

The Artist I-Ting Hou Built with all the benefits and functions of smart phones, as well as an audio-video camera, it keeps receiving instructions regarding what the owner should do next. Armed with what we call the “technological eye”, the device is surrounded by smart phones and ipads, each of which runs a different app function , GPS of various road systems, voice secretary apps, etc., recording or organizing every step of the owner’s everyday routine from the indoor activities to the outdoor, public sphere. Where the owner should go, which direction or route the owner should take, is informed by information gathered from various sources by the “technological eye”. This piece of multi-channel video recording sets out to record, at various locations, how the subject, wearing the technological device while at the same time having to follow instructions given by various GPS systems which almost inevitably leads to recognition and interpretation errors, is driven into a neurotic state by modern technologies.
Intriguingly, what our state of being or mindset will be when our innate sensory systems are being interrupted, rerouted and replaced entirely by information that is calculated and processed by means of technology? Nokia, the Finnish communications and information technology corporation used to perceive or brand their products as “human technology.” In reverse, this project attempts to explore the consequences when one retreats from humanity, the “conventional” relationship between our five sense and the brain that affects our judgement and behavior, and immerse oneself in the information system provided by technology completely and methodically. And what are the possible struggles when one is gravitated toward the information system in light of this gradually digitalized world.

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Robert Musil writes “The apparatus was set up, and because it was there it had to function, and once it was functioning, it began to accelerate; once a car starts rolling in an open field, even if no one is at the wheel, it will always take a definite, even a very impressive and remarkable course of its own.”[1] “Preliminary Study: RSI – T” is a group exhibition comprised of art works that explore the effects of technology on the evolution of the body, and consequentially, the mind. RSI, better known as “Repetitive Strain Injury,” is a clinical term for “injuries to the musculoskeletal and nervous systems that may be caused by repetitive tasks, forceful exertions, vibrations, mechanical compression, or sustained or awkward positions.”[2] In the last decade, technology has appeared in our lives in an extremity that has never been experienced before. The outcome of our excessive use of mobile devices, computers, and other tools of communication is not yet thoroughly detected or observed. Nevertheless, we are experiencing long hours of sitting in front of the computer screens, I-phones and I-Pads, and other operating devices (more recently Google glasses, Wii, and more). As in ancient days, when women and men were physically built to hunt and gather food, today our operating systems are being adapted to the increasingly growing technological demands.

In her work I Ting Hou raises questions regarding our daily technological repetitive habits and use of external references, reviews, and guidance to relieve social anxieties. In the series of works Hou investigates our physical corresponence with the surrounding and how our behavior and judgments are affected as we “immerse ourselves in the information systems provided by technology completely and methodically.”[3]

Dov Talpaz’s ongoing project “Family Painting Album” consists of paintings, collages, and drawings that are created from personal memories and family photographs. Previously stored in traditional photo-albums, these photographs are gathered today in their masses on the computer, I-phone, or in social media accounts only to be abandoned and forgotten. What used to be a “memory keeper” and a sentimental ritual activity is now gone and substituted by endless, nameless photos. By giving a new interpretation to family photographs and to personal memories Talpaz creates a new “aura” by making a singular and meaningful reproduction of the past.

Budd Dees’ abstract figures are a metaphor of the dismantling of the body. The forms’ physical attributes become symbols of broken body parts. A deformed hand, leg, face, or neck are colorfully scattered on the floor while nearby a larger board leans on a wall as if resting. Its posture, failing to hold itself straight, becomes an empathetic wink towards human condition.

In her 28-minute video, TMWQ, 2013, Ann Oren reveals a contemporary take on Robert Musil’s unfinished novel The Man Without Qualities. The video captures an intuitive choice of still images from Instagram, each accompanied by a quote from one of the chapters in the epic book. Musil’s text, written over a period of thirteen years from 1930-1943, combined with fast-culture imagery shifts the context of the original text into a debate on society’s contemporary perspective.

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Budd Dees graduated from the MFA in Art & Technology department at the University of Florida in 2013. He is the recipient of the 2014 Joan Mitchell Foundation Award and his works has been presented numerous group exhibitions in Berlin, Georgia, Florida, and California.

I Ting Hou graduated from the Fine Arts MFA program at the National Tainan University of Arts in Taiwan, in 2008. She has had numerous solo shows in Taipei, Taiwan and participated in group shows in Italy, China, Germany, and New York. Her works are in the While Ribbit Museum in Sydney Australi, National Taiwan Arts Museum and the Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts, Taiwan.

Ann Oren received her MFA in Fine Arts from the School of Visual Arts in NYC. Her works were featured at the Hammer Museum, Moscow Biennale for young art, and The Tel Aviv Museum, among many others. She is the grant recipient of The Jerome Foundation, The School of Visual Arts, NARS Foundation and the National Board of Reviews, NY.

Dov Talpaz studied at the New York Studio School, where he received numerous scholarships and merit awards. He has presented his first solo show in New York in 2008, in Tel Aviv in 2011, and recently a two-person show during 2013 in Holland, Michigan. His works are featured regularly in group shows in Tel Aviv, New York, and in Michigan, and are a part of numerous private and public collections around the globe.

Naomi Lev is a curator and writer. She specializes in collaborative art events that connect artists, curators, scholars, and architects from around the globe. She has worked with artists such as Vito Acconci and Jonathan Messe and in institutions such as the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. Her writings appear regularly in major art publications such as ARTFORUM, Art in America, and BOMB site, among others. Lev Graduated from the MFA Art Criticism and Writing department at The School of Visual Arts, NYC.
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[1] Robert Musil, The Man Without Qualities (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, distributed by Random House: 1995). 241-242. Excerpt from Ann Oren’s work TMWQ, 2013.
[2] wikipedia.org/wiki/Repetitive_strain_injury
[3] Excerpt from Hou, I Ting’s artist statement