• JG

You can see Tivon Rice's installation at Suyama Space.

Site Machines is comprised of multiple cameras, screens, and rows of tube lights suspended from the ceiling in a flying formation. The physical building gets wired into a surveillance and playback system that breaks it down into images. The video footage—some live, some not?—appears on three screens. One is a flat-screen perched up on the staircase overlooking the gallery. Up to four channels of footage can appear on that screen, splitting the screen into fourths, or as few as two, splitting the screen in half.

The other screens are set in the gallery like twin bodies. Their mechanical backs are exposed, and their twinned circuitry is a sculptural curiosity.

Watching the screens makes you look back at the room. Looking back at the room makes you want to look back at the screens. On the screens, sometimes you appear. Then suddenly, you're gone.

You begin to notice that visions of things that are not in the gallery are also appearing on the screens, suggesting hidden cameras in another location. I was told that there are cameras in the basement trained on architectural models stored there. Those feeds show scenes of neutral-colored groves of model trees, neutral-colored graded slopes of hillsides, the dollhouses of the building class. These intersperse with scenes of stacked building materials, presumably also elsewhere in the building. All of the views are constantly transported between screens, where they're sometimes distorted into flickers or mirror images.

Over several years now, Rice's work has been formally tight and tightly intellectualized. Here, the views are attractive. The flickering lights are almost hypnotic. And a sense of intelligence—in all senses of the word—pervades.

But the whole feels overly serious and cut off. It doesn't charm me into its chilly embrace the way some of Rice's earlier works did. I strapped myself in for a mental roller coaster ride but we never took off. Rice is a PhD candidate in UW's DXArts program. For me, far too much of the work that comes out of there has the same affectless, knowing, precisionist tone. I need more juice. See it for yourself.

  • JG

See more recommended art shows right here.