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Richard Speer

Visual Art Source

In a suite of candy-colored min­i­mal­ist sculp­tures titled “Res­o­nance,” Los Angeles-based artist Johannes Girar­doni uses tech­nol­ogy to cri­tique tech­nol­ogy. Immac­u­lately exe­cuted and unabashedly chro­matic, the sculp­tures are dev­as­tat­ingly gor­geous — and dev­as­tat­ing in their indict­ment of tech-crazed con­sumerism. The exhibition’s motif is a pix­e­lated cir­cle. When you first see one of them in repro­duc­tion, you’re liable to think the pic­ture is a low-res image. That’s part of the point. There are thir­teen of these inscrutable forms in all, wall-mounted, each cast in resin, and span­ning the ROYGBIV rain­bow of col­ors. They’re between 2.5 and 3.5 inches thick in grad­u­ated strata, which makes their cen­ters appear more deeply sat­u­rated than their edges. On their own, with­out any con­cep­tual con­text, they’re an agree­ably splashy series in the mode of bold geo­met­ric min­i­mal­ism. Titled after their col­ors (“Resonant-Green,” “Resonant-Violet,” and so on), the pieces across as very Cal­i­for­nia Light and Space, chan­neled through an Atari 800-era graphic sen­si­bil­ity. They’re futur­is­tic and nos­tal­gic at the same time.

Johannes Girar­doni, Res­o­nant – Red Orange.
Resin, pig­ment, vir­tual Spectro-Sonic refre­quencer.
20 × 20 × 3.5 in.


Walk­ing among the sculp­tures, at the pre­cise moment you think you’ve got­ten a suf­fi­cient sugar high of pure opti­cal­ity, a gallery assis­tant comes along and hands you an iPhone hooked up to a set of head­phones. As prompted, you slide them over your ears, hold up the screen — which dis­plays the pix­e­lated out­line of the sculp­tures — and walk toward one of the pieces until its con­tours line up with the out­line. The moment that hap­pens, the ambi­ent noise in the head­phones sud­denly morphs into a celestial-sounding choral out­burst — as if a choir of seraphim in fully gilded efful­gence had mag­i­cally mate­ri­al­ized in the mid­dle of this min­i­mal­ist sanctum.

The assis­tant points you onward toward the adja­cent sculp­ture, and hark!, it pro­duces an entirely dif­fer­ent sound­scape. And so you criss­cross the room, effec­tively com­pos­ing your own score as you per­am­bu­late. It feels down­right epiphanic every time you effect a new tone. You start com­ing up with favorites; the cobalt blue might strike you as espe­cially sim­patico with … with what, exactly? With a vibra­tion that seems to be on your wavelength.

And now Girardoni’s got you. What had been a per­fectly sump­tu­ous visual expe­ri­ence has just been improved upon by a tech­no­log­i­cal inter­face, and instantly the expe­ri­ence you’d had with the sculp­tures before­hand — with only your senses — seems by com­par­i­son bereft. The tech­no­log­i­cal medi­a­tor has become nec­es­sary to com­plete the art­work. “These damned boxes have become an aug­men­ta­tion to our senses,” Girar­doni told me, point­ing at his iPhone dur­ing a stu­dio visit ear­lier this week in Cul­ver City. “We’ve out­sourced cer­tain cog­ni­tive func­tions to it.” Haven’t we, though? Indeed, how could we nav­i­gate our cities with­out GPS? How would we find a tapas restau­rant within a one-mile radius with­out our apps? And how could we have a fun evening out with friends if we couldn’t take scads of self­ies with which to doc­u­ment the occasion?

“Res­o­nance” is a dev­il­ish conun­drum of a show. It seduces you with its bold col­ors and simi­pli­fied forms, then seduces you fur­ther by feed­ing you a fix of digitally-aided rev­e­la­tion. The more you enjoy the expe­ri­ence, the more impli­cated you are in Girardon’s double-coded ambush. The longer you saunter from piece to piece, tone to tone, the more who­r­ishly com­plicit you become in our cul­tural descent into spec­ta­cle and technology-addiction. This is the genius of the show: It draws you like a moth to the prover­bial flame, then singes you with a glimpse of your own irre­deemable superficiality.