The arbitrarily-organized information of the Internet and its applications and websites for social networking are major catalysts of contemporary social dynamics and the arts and visual culture. On view until May 5, Hilary Pecis’ and Erin Riley’s solo shows at Guerrero Gallery illustrate how the Internet and the proliferation of images has affected our relationships to the world and each other.
Hilary Pecis’ photo-collages in “Consensus,” composed from image files sourced mainly from Google Images, explores the artist’s continued interest in imagery disassociation due to oversaturation of images in a Post-modernist age. Pecis’ works attempt to reunite meaning with the disparate images and their search words or phrases from the internet’s inherent disorganization. Her works also wish to bring to light media’s ability to influence and at times distort perceptions of events and things, thinly veiled as public information. Pecis’ “Big Sky,” an idyllic landscape where the horizon lies at midpoint with top half blue sky and the bottom green grass pushes the original images further, as the warped dimensionality and choppy assemblage in the final product may also speak to the artificial depiction of nature in such searches. Some of Pecis’ works also achieve this with humor, such as her collage “Johns”: floating heads of people named John: from the everyday to celebrities John Waters, Jon Bon Jovi, and John Goodman. Many of Pecis’ word searches are not abstract nouns, which would account for the variance of images, but her use of common phrases and words still resulting in abstracted, equivocal imagery attest to the strength of her works.
Erin M. Riley’s tapestries in “Forgotten in a File,” made from a Macomber floor loom with hand-dyed wool yarn, are inspired by imagery produced by the generations of youths from the Internet social networking and photo-sharing age. This kind of visual dialogue alters traditional ideas of sex & sexuality: an addictive interest in new images, recognition or approval through quantitative “likes,” and conversation through comments of these images or statuses. Subject matter of the tapestries, drug & alcohol paraphenalia both as still lifes and implemented by faceless tattooed, inebriated naked women, comment upon the presence of overtly visual stimuli in social culture like Pecis’ images, but Riley’s are more obsessive, taken to an extreme, but how extreme can’t be determined. Riley’s use of tapestries also creates a very intriuging examination of the traditionally feminine, domestic craft of weaving blended with computer, webcams, and smartphone derived imagery and subject matter of women engaged in sexual activities. Yet, “Forgotten in a File” alludes to these images being of people and activities lost within the maze of the Internet, connotations of compassion, as well as the myth of ephemerality in social media. Two works titled “Self Portrait” seem to further engage with empathy towards these women as they attempt to make sense of their generation for which there is little precedent.
Erin M Riley, “Forgotten in a File” and Hilary Pecis, “Consensus” will be at Guerrero Gallery until May 5.