Barak Chamo: Sheer Appearances offers an illuminating overview of recent works which have been created during Chamo’s years of stimulating discoveries at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP). The experimental development of his work has taken a more profound form during his recent residency program at the Studios at MASS MoCA. Filling the space at the 23rd Street storefront gallery, the four major themes of the exhibition compress kinetic objects, floating 3D printed structures and unorthodox paintings. The acrylic surfaces are distracted by the tactical use of technology, particularly concerning the making, the representation and the potential perception of the digital moving image.
Each project grows out of a period of analytic research of human perception and behavior in dialogue with our non-human kin. These experiments are here to challenge factors of endogenous characteristics of the human system (individual, community, society and ecology). A fictional assessment of our interaction with technology aiming to identify the different elements that contribute to a human system’s vulnerability—what the artist explains as “small moments of impression and observation [which] are the ones that stay with me through life as lasting inspirations. The changing gradations of the sunset, the shifting formations of clouds, the speed of the bullet train as it cuts through the countryside. I wanted to distill this experience, the essence of color, scale and speed.”
“Hokkaido”, the first piece of the Light Paintings series, presents Chamo’s personal experience captured onboard the Japanese bullet-train, the Shinkansen. A series of low-resolution video works manifests on a sparse LED matrix while diffused by stretched canvas. As an attempt to enhance the depiction of subjective memory, this series reduces resolution, blurring away particulars of time and space to capture the sensation of form and tone in perpetual movement.
Subjective Structures is a series of staggering optical sculptures, made of ambiguous 3D forms mutated into two intersecting planes and rendered in dichroic sheets, a material that changes in coloration in relation to the angle of observation. As a viewer changes their perspective the sculpture responds in strikingly different form and tone, emphasizing the limits of perception within a range of possibilities and creating a “hyper-subjective” between the human and the artificial.
The playful series of Formal Randomness appears as counterparts to Subjective Structures defining a form in space not necessarily through organized reduction rather within the containment of randomness or “noise”. A new series of light sculptures made of acrylic or neon, rendering a line traced between randomly scattered points bounding a volume of an ambiguous shape.
The series of Portraits is the result of digital transformation and physical movement; while the images are rendered on sparse LED matrices they are diffused by a moving acrylic sheet. As a result of the sheet’s velocity, the image breaks into distinct light points and suddenly a discernible image appears.
The present works appear as assessments of human interaction with technology and reevaluate this fragile relationship under extreme tactile conditions. The urgency to bring fundamental shift of perspective echoes somehow contemporary issues related to human hacking in “surveillance capitalism.” For his solo presentation, Barak Chamo provides the translation of complex theoretical deliberations into spatial work that not only appeals to people rationally but also touches them emotionally and moves them towards the recognition of our collective, human vulnerabilities.
About the Artist
Barak Chamo’s work explores the limits of perception, what is seen and unseen by the human system, and how it’s vulnerabilities are laid bare by its interaction with technology in an accelerating feedback loop. His research-based practice employs light, video and kinetic sculptures to create intimate subjective spaces that recognize these limits inspire a shift in perspective.
Chamo graduated from New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications program, and is now an adjunct professor at the Department of Digital Media. He completed residencies at MASS MoCA’s Studio program, HoloCenter NY and IDEALab and was awarded the IDFA Immersive Non-Fiction Award and Special Jury Award for Creative Techonology. His work was recently featured at Currents New Media, Fresh Paint Art Fair, Lightbox, Museum of the Moving Image and other international exhibitions.