I saw Andrew Imm’s The System of Chance again this week in the late afternoon, with the overhead lights turned on and the black lights turned off. This second view was less Information Superhighway, and more “a series of tubes“
—20th-century wonder replaced by 21st-century disillusionment.
Imm’s exhibit is built from old computer parts and found photographs of missing children. The children’s photographs are either framed in small groups (as seen on the left wall), or mounted on long, foil-wrapped boards in much larger groups. The only individually framed photograph is displayed on the Small Gallery’s central pedestal. Most of these photographs are partially obscured by holographic tape or internal keyboard circuitry (a thin, see-through sheet traced with copper wires).
The distinction between framing method and presentation is puzzling. While Imm’s decision to alternate between small frames, large frames, and neon-backed x-rays (the fourth wall, to the right of the door) has the advantage of breaking up the exhibit’s potential visual monotony, it also draws attention to the sameness which surrounds visitors. As Imm notes in his statement, this is a “collage of missing identities.” Like these strips of collage, these children lose their individual identities when they are categorized as Missing Children
—the antithesis of Imm’s desire to draw attention to the plight of missing children.
Dozens of keyboards are hung above The System of Chance. They’ve been gutted of circuitry, keys, and the pressure sensitive buttons which register keystrokes
—these ancillary parts are incorporated in the show below. The small circuit boards which control keyboard lights hang from the empty keyboards like entrails. Looking up, I’m reminded of the Plains Indians and their legendarily complete bison harvest.
Perhaps the most mentioned feature of Imm’s show was the holographic glasses visitors were given in the Small Gallery. Like a prism, the glasses break light sources and reflect light into faint rainbows. Imm’s room, filled with a magpie’s selection of circuitry, foil, mirrors, and shiny paper, became wonderfully overwhelming when seen through his glasses (even in daylight).
Given the “neatness” of the effect, I’m still left to wonder how the glasses advance Imm’s central thesis. In his statement he explains, “Holograms create aura energy that transcends time, bringing forward the vibrations of the lost …. Reshaping our ritualistic nostalgia forms lasting connections.” Would it be more honest to say, “This looks cool, so I used it?” After seeing The System of Chance again in the light of day, with the black lights and strobes turned off, I have that question for the entire exhibit: How much of this show is a concerted effort to make a point, and how much of it reflects the happenstance of objects found and displayed as decoration?
Andrew Imm’s The System of Chance closes August 8. You can see more of Mike Germon’s photographs here.