Lindsey White's second solo exhibition at Eli Ridgway Gallery is a study in breaks, spills, and ubiquitous objects. Matter of Fact is a grouping of video, sculpture, and photographic works that cite accidental and purposeful modes of visual comedy, forming engaging loops throughout this exceedingly pleasing installation.
Remarkable for its restraint, Matter of Fact consists of only eight artworks. Each piece is given a refreshing amount of space, allowing viewers to make their own connections between recurring visual themes without feeling bullied into a specific take on the work. One such theme is 'the break,' showing up as a series of cartoonishly broken windows, never-ending shattered glass, and the straightforward illustration of the results of a hammer-on-glass confrontation.
Lindsey White, 12 Cartoon Breaks.Despite the potential to be so, White's breaks aren't violent. Even the luminous photograph Breaking Glass, the most purposeful of the bunch, appears to be an experiment rather than an act of aggression. Similarly, 3 Color Method, reads like live documentation of a Harold Edgerton photograph, as opposed to video of dishware thrown in a fit of rage. Downstairs, against the back wall of the darkened space, this floor-to-ceiling projection shows a slow motion loop of red, yellow, and blue glass breaking simultaneously into scattering bits. With each crash, the viewer attempts to gather more information from the short clip before the solid objects dissolve, confetti-like, into a multi-color burst.
Lindsey White, 3 Color Method.In a neat inverse of this silent video, a blacked-out room off the larger downstairs gallery hosts Glass Sounds, an image-less audio piece. A ceiling-mounted parabolic speaker plays a stream of noises most accurately described as "a bull in a glass shop," creating a series of satisfying crashes, rumbles, and tinkles as smaller shards hit the ground. With the audio coming from above, the glass shatters right on top of the listener's head, producing involuntary, but thrilling flinches with each unexpected explosion of sound.
Lindsey White, The Comedian's Stool.The comedy of Glass Sounds comes from the aural overload, or the idea of a place where seemingly endless supplies of glass could be broken. More references to such physical comedy come upstairs, where The Comedian's Stool is a joke and punch line rolled into one sculpture. Clear resin pours out of a sideways glass and turns into a puddle-shaped piece of clear acrylic, preserving a short-lived moment in permanent materials. Downstairs, Spilled Shirt harkens back to the sculpture above, but also conveys a sense of mysterious meaning. Is there a hidden face in the darkened cloth? A mystical message to be gleaned from its presumably accidental appearance?
Lindsey White, Spilled ShirtThe looped video Strobes seems the most likely candidate to assist in decoding the various aspects of Matter of Fact. A man's hand extends in from the right side of the screen, holding or modeling an assortment of rainbow-hued household objects. Each still image mimics the burst of a strobe flash, momentarily illuminating a new object before it is replaced by another. With each object offered up in succession, the video resembles a rebus of sorts. But since the combination of a pineapple, comb, tape measure, and tennis ball yields nothing, the gesture becomes more of a magic trick reveal, the objects appearing from darkness in a strange "ta-da!" moment.
Lindsey White, still from Strobe.Matter of Fact is filled with such moments, reveling in lighthearted gags and simple gestures to create an experience that is all the more satisfying for the puzzles it contains. One of my favorite parts of the whole exhibition is the postcard, an oversized black rectangle with one of the cartoon breaks die-cut out of its middle. With this tool, visitors can highlight anything they deem fit, transforming the jagged void into a starburst frame. In our hands, the card becomes a method of emphasizing the surprising qualities of the pineapples, combs, tape measures, and tennis balls in our own everyday lives.
Matter of Fact is on view at Eli Ridgway Gallery through January 26, 2013. For more information visit eliridgway.com.