Bad Reception: Eric White Tackles a New Angle of the Year that Was
A muffled phone call? Fuzzy video feed? It’s always blamed on Bad Reception, our all purpose catch-all for what’s causing the bad communication. Once we can hear the words or decipher the picture, all’s right with our world and the truth prevails. Or so we prefer to believe, and perhaps an inspiration for the title of Eric White’s new solo exhibit, showing at Amerstdam’s Grimm Gallery showing through January 9, 2021. Bad Reception harkens back to a time when a square, modestly sized television “set” was indeed the hearth of the home, the family’s source of entertainment, news and, when needed, numbness. A film aficionado himself, White centers his new series on that era and the vestiges that still dictate our lives.
TV directly shaped generations of people in ways that nobody could foresee. Day to day social dynamics revolved around an invincible program timetable. Authoritative voices from newsreels seen at the movies stamped the impramater of authority to Walter Cronkite telling us “And that’s the way it is.” VCRs and Twitter have upset the circadian rhythm; enter the bulimia of binge watching. While White may admit to a sentimentality for the wooden sets and wooden anchor men, he can also laughingly and ominously highlight the manipulations that lead to Bad Reception.
When the naked eye was not enough, Vermeer attempted to document life through optical tools, and similarly, produced television images could be more saturated, polished, and exaggerated for a more desired truth. In a series of small paintings taking us back to "a nostalgic era, a time when television was a daily ritual and analog TV sets were fixtures in every home," White proposes different ways and perspectives we interact(ed) with the iconic piece of furniture. Juxtaposing such idealized scenarios, he interjects the flashes of supernatural sci-fi scenarios that haunted our televised reality. Just as Orson Welles pranked and prodded with his War of the Worlds, Eric White paints unexpected angles and views of what just may be around the corner. Stay tuned. —Sasha Bogojev