Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art; through Sept. 17.
Is seeing believing? How do we know that what we see is "real?" Brian James Priest wants audiences to ponder these questions in Animalcules. A grain of sand inspired it all: digitally printed imagery, installations, and performances. Deeper considerations about science, origins, micro to macro, and a realization that sand represents life's building blocks inform the work. If this seems like a lot to address in one exhibition, it is! Priest composed images of collected, individual sand particles using a light microscope and his PC for "Grains," which fills iMOCA's back gallery. Large-scale Polycarbonate cutout pictures of each sand particle look like boulders of living environments: rocky caves, insects, glacier crystals or fossilized feathers. Beside each macro grain cutout was the actual sand granule in a plastic bag. Do we accept Priest's "portraits" as true depictions?
There's more. Pendulums hanging from sound domes above floor displayed cutouts point to smaller places within the images, making one think about additional micro worlds we may have forgotten to imagine. In talking with Priest about his ideas and processes, his art became even more densely packed with nuances, rituals and patterns. For instance, objects in digital collages in "Bodele" that look photographed were digitally constructed, and there are performances that may or may not happen. Don't let the hidden meanings intimidate you. Even without explanation, works may still be enjoyed for their slick details and presentation, formal compositions, and imagery that moves from being playful with depictions of giant minerals on cardboard boxes to altar-like, spiritual and scientific.
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