In both artists’ works the dichotomy of making/unmaking is prevalent. Smilde’s now-famous clouds are constructions, immortalized by photography, but completely ephemeral in their original state. His second piece, Until Askeaton has Street View, began with the image of a roadside barn from Google’s Street View of Askeaton, Wisconsin. During a residence in Askeaton, Ireland (namesake of the stateside town), Smilde transposed the digital barn to a 2D physical structure and erected it alongside a road very much like the original site. Strangely, the Irish faction of Google Street View subsequently photographed this impermanent, pixilated barn, completing Smilde’s artwork. Now both Askeatons have the same barn, according to Google Maps, creating a bizarre digital vortex between two places on the globe.
The modest number of works in the show might lead viewers to look for more information, more access to the artists and the ideas surrounding their practices. In anticipation of this, the SFAC Gallery organized two public events. The first occurred on March 20 at the main branch of the San Francisco Public Library, bringing Smilde together with artist Doug Rickard and Fine Arts Museums’ curator Melissa Buron. In short, 10-minute presentations, the participants discussed their own practices and fleeting thoughts related to the images. There was no discussion amongst the three and no question and answer session with the audience, only an invitation to “come up afterwards for a quick chat if you would like.”
A separate public event centered around Hanasik’s work, featuring Tammy Rae Carland and Abner Nolan, is scheduled for April 10 in the War Memorial Veterans Building. While it might yield more in-depth discussions, it’s a shame the two artists couldn’t actually have a public conversation. Smilde’s brief visit to San Francisco overlapped with an opening of Hanasik’s work in a National Portrait Gallery group show, keeping the two apart.