Realism is a complicated thing. The term conjures the notion that a work attempts a level of representation that makes a legitimate effort to accurately reflect its subject. Yet, one can be confronted with a realistic portrait of an individual, a space or a landscape and continuously scrutinize all the inherent biases involved in its creation until there is nothing left to consider objective. How a thing is represented affects how objectively it is received, thrusting its presumed real-ness into question. None of this is controversial. Indeed, they are truisms of any creative practice or act of art appreciation.
In the exhibit “Evidentiary Realism,” presented at NYC’s Fridman Gallery in collaboration with the Berlin-based Nome Gallery, and curated by artist Paolo Cirio, a form of realism predicated upon research, investigation and documentation visualizes and re-visualizes what is otherwise invisible or obfuscated from view. In Ingrid Burrington’s Reconnaissance, (Moncks Corner, 33.064257, -80.0443453), for example, satellite images of a Google Data Center, or what she called data centers more generally during a panel preceding the opening, “charismatic megafauna of construction,” are visualized as trippy lenticular prints. Images of the data center at different points in time are layered upon each so when walking past them they gleam with a bright greyness. Bland colors are given an ethereal glow. What’s ironic in a work like this, and as the artist explains, is their underlying imagery are manipulated to remove clouds and time zones. They aren’t so much ‘real’ as they are providing a view of something that is unseen by the public due to its private and securitized nature. Here is the internet, writ large, whose physical essence and appearance is erased or denatured, promulgated within an image to disclose how it actually exists.