No doubt, visual experiences that introduce new concepts or enhance perception—Renaissance paintings’ linear perspective, pointillism’s benday dot forays, and
constructivism’s dimensionless renderings—adapt the brain’s cognitive capabilities. Given curator Warren Neidich’s ophthalmological past life, he’s particularly attuned to
dysfunctional vision. Works presented here purposely confuse the viewer’s otherwise normal sensory apparatus, initially disrupting one’s ability to perceive, categorize, and process material. This 21-artist praxis promises cognitive expansion.
Eschewing the brain as mere translator of inscrutable information, the exhibit’s most successful pieces engage the body as an active neurobiological sensor. Liam Gillick’s multipanel dropped ceiling and heat-lamp enclave spark contact. Douglas Gordon’s timed text hastens viewing. Jonathan Horowitz’s sight-reading Bach entices. Spencer Finch’s star-bound brain wave bewilders. Indeterminate depths of field stymie gauging works by Uta Barth, Carl Fudge, and Charlene Von Heyl, while Thomas Ruff stimulates 3-D seeing. Anne Kugler animates memory fatigue.
Some works suggest the author’s cognitive transformation. A sprawling photo tree unfurls Andrea Robbins’s son’s vehicular categories. Ann Lislegaard’s drawings under hypnosis or Rainer Ganahl’s 500 Hours of Basic Chinese imply altered brain states. T. Kelly Mason’s circular suburban plan, juxtaposed against its construction debris, arouses dismay. Belying the peephole’s role, three sightings underlie People, Ricci Albenda’s indistinguishable paintings.
Refreshing information trays display background ideas as a dreamy stream of concepts. Like the Greeks, who linked seeing and thinking, this show’s orientation views voluntary seeing as the means to involuntary thought.