516 exhibit explores nuances of 21st-century language - Albuquerque Journal

516 exhibit explores nuances of 21st-century language

In an age bombarded by emails, Facebook and Twitter, communication explodes in a cascade of emojis, memes and codes.

“21st Century Cyphers” explores this phenomenon through the work of 15 artists at 516 ARTS. These artists use painting, sculpture, digital, installation and sound to dissect and reframe the nuances of language in the 21st century.

The dictionary defines “cypher” as a secret or disguised form of writing. In an age finding Facebook under fire for privacy violations, symbols and glyphs form their own kind of shorthand.

“I’ve been a student of language my entire adult life,” curator Claude Smith said. “The original idea is that artists are using visual code. In 2015, emoji was the word of the year from the Oxford English Dictionary.”

Arizona artist Matt Magee began exploring language at the Tamarind Institute in 2016.

Inspired by the grid paintings of New Mexico minimalist Agnes Martin, he created a print series based on her “On a Clear Day Screen Print Edition.”

“My first instinct was to fill them in,” he said of Martin’s trademark graph squares as he completed a mural at 516 ARTS. “These have evolved from a 4-by-6-inch print to a 72-inch-by-6-foot mural.”

The composition resembles a paragraph, complete with indentation. The body of the work looks like computer code imbedded within small oval shapes.

“It is a Morse kind of code,” he explained. “But it’s invented language.

“My work is language-based,” Magee continued. “My father was a geologist and a archaeologist. So the idea of looking up shapes and forms to understand what’s going on is natural to me.”

Karla Knight’s 2018 “Red Spaceship (UR, OM, UM, OX, UH),” resembles a futuristic Navajo rug emblazoned with hieroglyphics of eyes, shapes and letters. The artist is from Connecticut.

“She’s created imagery of invented language and glyphs that are both ancient and futuristic,” Smith said. “She calls these spaceship drawings. They strike me almost like looking at a motherboard.”

New York’s Hayal Pozanti, who also has printed at Tamarind, painted “81 (Percentage of CEOS with high intuition scores who doubled their business in five years),” 2016, acrylic on canvas.

“She created an imaginary alphabet called ‘Instant Paradise’,” Smith said. “She encrypts the paintings with information. She’s the only person who can read these; it’s almost like a time capsule.”

New Mexico’s Walter Robinson’s hybrid graphs-meet-crossword puzzles incorporate wordplay into their designs. “Tartan Wordcross (Cruel Truth),” 2011, stamps incongruous pairings such as “Fatal Botox” and “Toxic Pixel” into a plaid lifted from Scottish Highland design.

“He created these word labyrinths,” Smith said. “It’s arranged like a crossword puzzle and almost like a maze. You have to string together the words to find the way out.

“In times (of) trending topics like fake news and Facebook, they’re really complex,” he added. “They’re fun in that you can stand there and pull the words out.”

Home » Entertainment » Arts » 516 exhibit explores nuances of 21st-century language


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

1
Oh, the treasures: Auction of Forrest Fenn's prized collection ...
ABQnews Seeker
Forrest Fenn captured the imagination of ... Forrest Fenn captured the imagination of the world. With his 2010 memoir, 'The Thrill of the Chase,' he set off a massive treasure hunt ...
2
NM actor strives to help nurture the film community
Arts
Sam Quinnn, co-owner of Southwest Scene ... Sam Quinnn, co-owner of Southwest Scene Works, is starting a series called, 'Create Your Own Content.'
3
Author Don Winslow finds joy in weaving together words
Arts
Don Winslow will participate in a ... Don Winslow will participate in a talk at the Santa Fe Literary Festival from 11 a.m.-12:15 p.m. on Saturday, May 21.
4
'Under the Banner of Heaven' author Jon Krakauer ready ...
Arts
Krakauer is slated to be on ... Krakauer is slated to be on stage at 4:45 p.m. Sunday, May 22.
5
Inaugural Santa Fe Literary Festival connects authors and readers
Arts
The festival is a four-day, multi-event ... The festival is a four-day, multi-event gathering.
6
Three woman exhibit incorporates the images, techniques and ideas ...
Arts
Art show at Gallery Hózhó ends ... Art show at Gallery Hózhó ends May 18.
7
Enjoy gladiolus blooms longer with successive planting
Arts
Successive planting can also be used ... Successive planting can also be used for vegetable gardening.
8
Socorro author debuts cozy mystery series 'The Accidental Detective'
Arts
'Something Shady at Sunshine Haven,' like ... 'Something Shady at Sunshine Haven,' like most cozy mysteries, doesn't have sex, violence or foul language.
9
'Book Lovers' is a romance fueled by quick banter
Arts
Emily Henry makes herself laugh at ... Emily Henry makes herself laugh at the character's dialogue in her own books