Between Here and a Kind of Fleshlessness is about the body's love-hate relationship to the screen. Tivon Rice is a young Seattle artist working on his PhD in the DXARTS program at the University of Washington; he is represented by Lawrimore Project. There are three works of art in this show, all new.
Two have LCD monitors mounted on the wall, each displaying an image of a finger or a palm. Below the screens are rubber pads shaped like the human part onscreen (long, narrow, and horizontal for the finger in Pink Noise: From a Finger, for instance). Lit pink from within, the rubber pads are finger magnets: You know instinctively to run your finger along them. When you do, an echo of your finger appears onscreen, running over the original body part.
At first this is reassuring: recognition. But the proxy finger turns out to have its own preset patterns. By touching the pad in a certain area, you make the proxy finger appear on a certain area of the original finger or palm. But once there, the proxy traces its own unchangeable arc and then stops moving even as you're still moving your own finger around on the pad. This is not a good proxy.
Is this a function of the technology? If machines were more advanced, would the virtual and the real fingers line up? Or is the artist making the point that even state-of-the-art, tarted-up technology—the screens are surrounded by opaque plastic bubble pillows like sexy Apple Store design bits—is inadequate in imitating the human body? Okay, but that isn't something we need an elaborately engineered touch-screen art experience to be reminded of: Yet another rule-bound German will follow his touch-screen GPS right off another cliff any day now, killing his body because he trusted a screen more. Few new questions seem to be raised here.
The more intimately, even insidiously, affecting work in the show is the three-channel video installation. Words taken from T. S. Eliot mix and remix on the three screens. The words appear with two sets of images: footage of a sleeping dog's fanged, pink-gummy mouth and of a body of water under a moonlit pier.
The dog makes sudden, drawn-out, loud snoring noises—it is a sleeping monster—and the water laps. There is a pattern to these sounds, images, and words that becomes recognizable as a rhythm; you anticipate and long for it. The composition has crowd-shaping power: It seems addressed not to a single person but to a congregation of seekers. The sleeping dog is in control of the room, is a sleeping god. The words "But the faith, and the love, and the hope, are all in the waiting" appear repeatedly, in rhythm, and the dog exhales, the teeth slowly coming back together on the word "waiting." This chorus stays in your body after you leave; you can replay it. If Rice can't quite get the body to reproduce itself onscreen, he does know how to make the screen take up residence in the body.