Artist duo Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe conjured a science fiction fantasy of decrepit staged dioramas stashed with junk. Like an ode to their lust for illicit substances, traces of crystal meth that regularly show up in their previous projects become sublime again. The substance acts as the underlying central theme where “rock” motifs reoccur (i.e. the cactus sculptures growing out of geodes on metal tables in the lab and the arcade room’s case of black market prizes). With eleven rooms that seem to have been abandoned by their junkie inhabitants, the exhibit fabricated by Wolfgang & Hite swallowed two floors of Marlborough Gallery in London from September through October.
Named Colony Sound, the exhibit is the pair’s most recent work which offers up a speculative take on American history. Rooted in an obscure fantasy of their own, the premise is a past where a technological communication system made from a bacterial petri dish in California during the Cold War, “The Smile,” brainwashes people. Set in present-day, the installation conjectures about how this technology could be adopted by new generations.
After passing through what looks like a bullet-proof door abandoned by ticket counter clerks, one enters a mundane hallway lined with mailboxes and clocks arranged in a haphazard framework of four arbitrary time zones. The liar reveals itself with as a crack den living room, outfitted in 1970s mustard wallpaper, stalactite-like ceilings, and brown sofas. Edging the room beneath the heavily stuccoed roof, a pair of shopping mall security sensors leads into a space that is somewhere between a bedroom, head shop, and arcade. Perforated metal screens where merchandise would otherwise be hung section-off a red metal bunk bed. There, two well-lit display cases house a selection of what appear to be lab-engineered narcotics; presented like used electronics. The presentation of objects in these carefully constructed environments make the “case” for the primary take away of the exhibition: our relationship with technology, albeit a dependent one, goes hand in hand with drug use.
Traversing from one dilapidated room into the next, one gets a strangely satisfying feeling that they’re entering without permission. Moving from a half incinerated audio recording studio into a geodesic dome swathed in bright orange paper, the spaces come together spatially, but not visually. Tied together by loosely defined borders, a dream-like deluge of spatial junk warps together like a bad trip. This collection of sinister objects creates an odd sense of tension as one moves from room to room. Unpleasant sensations percolate through every corner. Strange yet beautiful, the exhibit is innately immersive, inviting each visitor to experience their own subjective reality.
Header Image: A half incinerated recording studio looks like an arson crime scene. (Luke Walker)