Categorized | Reviews

Christopher Manzione @ CCAS

Compost Host, 2013, digital print and 3D virtual model, 41 x 100"
There’s a kind of fission that takes place when we go online or gaze into a smartphone: part of the mind is separated and placed in a virtual space.  Many of us see this place as an indifferent landscape foisted on us by a creeping technological age.  Philadelphia artist Chris Manzione just thinks it a good place to put his sculptures.  
All Surfaces Become One, an Augmented Reality (AR) show curated by Rachel Clarke, a professor of New Media at Sac State, uses smartphones or tablets as a prosthetic eye to display sculptures hidden in virtual space.  Each print, when viewed through a smartphone, displays a 3-D sculpture that appears to be attached to one of the printed images on display. The phone scans the image and overlays a virtual sculpture on top of it, as if the print were acting as a base or pedestal for a three-dimensional object.  As viewers move in relation to the print, the overlay shifts as well, reacting like an ordinary meatspace object while contained within the viewing screen of the phone.  The effect is of holding a window into a parallel world where everything surrounding that window remains the same except for what’s inside: the art.  While the prints themselves are inward turning, soft and enveloping, the virtual sculptures that emerge from them are jutting, aggressive and often jagged.
Paper Tape Host, 2013, Digital Print and 3D model, 41 x 60"

Manzione describes his previous sculpture as being either vaginal or phallic, and by merging the real and the virtual in this show he appears to have bridged that dichotomy.  Manzione seems to be taking a cavalier attitude to what others see as meaningful distinctions, butting supposed opposites up against each other just to see what happens.  The ability to do so stems from the mutative origin of the work: each of the pieces in this show began as a small impromptu collage of disparate objects.  He then scanned the collages into a computer, producing a 3-D model.  Those models were then output into the physical world with a 3-D printer.  At that point, Manzione envisioned All Surfaces as a show of printed 3-D objects, but that changed when the scanned models were textured and transformed into prints and AR sculptures.  At each iteration, the distinction between the original idea and final object became blurred, and what remained were the myriad products of this constant churning.  Eventually, the idea and the resulting objects became bereft of origin, manifesting themselves at times physically and at other times virtually. 

Whether we view the encroaching ubiquity of technology as an invasion or a transformation, the truth will probably lie somewhere in between.  Manzione, who operates the Virtual Public Art Project, a platform for the display of digital art, has successfully overcome the dilemma of distinctions, creating work that is simultaneously one thing and its opposite.

Christopher Manzione: “All Surfaces Become One” @ Center for Contemporary Art, Sacramento through November 14, 2013.

About the Author
Mikko Lautamo is an artist living and working in Sacramento.  His work uses programming to create never ending, never repeating digital animations based on social systems, biological entities and interactions.  He received an MA from California State University Sacramento in 2011, and has shown in various galleries on that campus, at the Center for Contemporary Art, Sacramento; Axis Gallery and online.

One Response to “Christopher Manzione @ CCAS”

  1. doug biggert says:

    “encroaching ubiquity”? david, not as arcane as barthes. but better left to pincus-witten’s spiels in old art forums. he was the chip that stopped my reading back when the sandal shop wall was being made. doug


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