Decaying Pixels


In this strong group show, two standouts face off in lively dialogue: Nam June Paik unleashes a high-velocity video fest while Roxy Paine creates hushed beauty through entropic decay. In Elephant Gate (1995), Paik stacks his signature banks of variously sized monitors behind a weathered metal grille from Southeast Asia, which partially obscures the closed-circuit tumult. Simultaneously flaring with colorful solarized images of Indian tourist ads, test patterns, and laconic nudes, the video loops compete with the silhouettes of animals and dancing maids that stud the stolid gate, scorched from years of votive candle offerings. The ancient figures and gently flickering candles complement the pixel frenzy—together they span centuries of storytelling.

In A vs. B (2004), Paine uses synthetic polymers to mimic a wonderland of fungus: Collapsed mushrooms, their deflated heads becoming tarry mush, are colonized by splotches of iridescent blue mold; bulbous mauve conglomerations, bloated by putrefaction, are strewn about like rabbit droppings; sandy ochre blobs turn gelatinous gray at the edges. This riveting vitrine of freeze-framed evolution brings to mind rocket scientist Wernher von Braun’s observation that “Nature does not know extinction; all it knows is transformation.”