"Surveying the Terrain" @ CAM Raleigh, North Carolina

Oct 04, 2013 - Jan 13, 2014CAM Raleigh, Raleigh

On a recent visit to see family in North Carolina, I checked out the Contemporary Art Museum in Raleigh just as they were preparing to install their block buster show: “Surveying the Terrain.” Standing amongst a herd of pachyderm-sized crates of Maya Lin’s work, was Marjorie Hodges the museum director. We walked over to a new coffee shop that makes its own chocolate in the surrounding revitalized warehouse district to chat and catch up.

It was plain to see that Marjorie was extremely excited about her upcoming show, she even divulged that it was becoming difficult to sleep. She told me that several of the artists were getting some good press that week in Time Magazine and the Wall Street Journal. The exhibition’s curator, Dan Solomon, choose ten artists who use recent technological advancements to create imagery that reveals what one artist has called “the apocalyptic sublimed,” a term that suggests in its dichotomy the context of our present crisis dwarfed within the all-enduring beauty. It’s uncanny that technology is being used to view its own damaging effects. A prime example is Maya Lin’s web-based project: “what is missing?” Lin invites website visitors to share “a memory of something they have personally witnessed diminish significantly or disappear from the natural world.”

Three of the artists in the show use Google map applications to create their work. Mishka Henner uses Google Earth Pro to collect images for his piece 18 Pumpjacks, which look somewhere between close-ups of circuit boards or Jackson Pollock paintings. While Doug Rickard has used Google Street to capture 20,000 images that he curates into various sets for his body of work he calls New American Picture. Clement Valla’s series Postcards from Google Earth provides comic relief, exposing surveillance technology’s shortcomings with warped images, where bridges slump without structural support.

Trevor Paglen shows us telescope images of all our space junk, which will probably be floating around our orbit for another 100,000 years. As Paglen writes: what we are getting from these artists are “view[s] of the planet, to be sure, but one[s] that [are] slightly uncomfortable. [These are] not...view[s] that someone can attempt to understand at first glance, but one of a person seeing the world with new eyes.”

-David Molesky, New York
All photos courtest of CAM Raleigh, by Nick Pironio

Surveying the Terrain

on view October 4, 2013 - January, 13, 2014

Curated by Dan Solomon, featuring: Mishka Henner, Alfredo Jaar, Matthew Jensen, Laura Kurgan, Maya Lin, David Maisel, Vik Muniz, Trevor Paglen, Doug Rickard & Clement Valla

@ CAM Raleigh |409 W Martin Street | Raleigh, NC 27603 | (919) 513-0946