Ghosts in the Machine, a huge new group show exploring the intersection–and, at times, collision–among humans, machines, and art, is the sort of shambling, serendipitous exhibition at which The New Museum, with its mix of soaring spaces and intimate nooks, generally excels.
And, for the most part, the pattern holds: Ghosts in the Machine at the New Museum serves up an enormous amount of work–industrial objects and installations; projections and videos; photographs and drawings, sculptural pieces, kinetic and otherwise–and does a good job of providing enough context and backstory to each so that the exhibition more or less coheres into something of a whole.
Ghosts in the Machine at the New Museum spans nearly a century, and includes the creations from more than 70 international artists.
There’s a lot to explore and think about here (or shrug at and continue on, depending) but a list of my favorites would have to include: Stan VanDerBeek’s Movie-Drome (top), a rarely-shown, semi-mind-blowing slide-show- movie- sound-collage from the mid-1960s, presented inside a hemispherical room (the clacking and whirring of the old-school technology adds a great deal to the overall effect); and Gianni Colombo’s black-lit room Elastic Space (above), also from the 1960s, which feels like you’ve entered a first-generation video game (or the first version of the movie Tron).
Another favorite would be “uncredited” reconstruction of the torture machine from Franz Kafka’s “In the Penal Colony” (below), made all the more grim by its positioning directly across from a pair of encased, utterly banal, vacuum cleaners (torture devices of their own sort?).
There’s lots more good stuff here, too. Hans Haacke’s “Sphere in Oblique Air Jet” and “Blue Sail” (below) both use fan-made wind to delightful effect; J.G. Ballard’s series of collages are surprisingly amusing; and Otto Piene’s Hangende Lichtkugel (bottom) is like hanging at a disco crawling with giant illuminated bugs.
Some of the work here feels more than a little stale–I’m talking to you, Third Floor–and do we really need FOUR framed Rube Goldberg’s (or even one), especially when Peter Fischli and David Weiss’s brilliant The Way Things Go, (here’s a clip) is on continuous loop in the lobby?
All told, though, Ghosts In the Machine is a satisfying show, especially when you throw in the way-cool holograms in the lobby by the likes of Chuck Close, James Turrell and Louise Bourgeois; and Nathalie Djurberg’s flock of colorful, cartoony, and downright insane-looking birds (and claymations) right next door in Studio 231.
More info on all the above–New Museum admissions, hours, etc.–can be found on their website.
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