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THE BUZZ: Playful Interactions. There’s no such thing as getting too close


Playful Interactions. There’s no such thing as getting too close

Article by Cathy Breslaw

San Diego State University Downtown Gallery on view through June 15

For those of us who have set off alarms in museums for getting ‘too close’ to the art, or have been admonished by security guards for the same, this show is for YOU. Playful Interactions is an interactive, hands on exhibition of the art of Dave Ghilarducci, Rizzhel Mae Javier, and Margaret Noble. While playful and fun for viewers/participators, there are also underlying deeper ideas at the basis of these art pieces – these artists’ works deal with the subjects of identity, self reflection, human relationships, and memory. Largely conceptual in their focus, these art pieces are created with a mixture of digital and analog processes. Dave Ghilarducci combines engineered technology and craft linked with humor and commentary on our culture. “I Don’t Feel Like I’m Getting Anywhere, (worker)” is a single lever acrylic circular mechanized system of angled trays where tiny metal balls run through, and the direction is controlled by the ‘player’. If the title is any indication of the piece’s meaning, Ghilarducci is referring to the world of work, and the inevitable questions about the direction we may be taking – as if we are “spinning our wheels”. The work is couched in humor and cynicism. Rizzhel Mae Javier exhibits pieces from her series Move(meant) – black and white photographic analog works that are interactive. These art pieces are based on Javier’s personal relationships, having to do with private thoughts and memories. Javier’s work “The Hand” is one of a group of self directed circular photographic flip books, reminiscent of 19th century animation devices. “We and Me” is a conceptual piece housed in old-school metal index card boxes where comments on relationships come in the form of individual black and white photos, carefully catalogued under such category titles as ‘we changed’, ‘before’ and ‘after’. Here again the flip-book optical technique is cleverly employed to describe memories about an important relationship.

Margaret Noble uses found objects, newly created wood objects and sound to activate the viewer’s senses in accessing memories and perception. “Head in the Sand” is a large warm-toned light-hued wood box on legs constructed with a large enough hole on top for viewers to place their entire head inside. Once our head is inside the box, we see an all-black interior, where pure sounds are activated – there is an eeriness to the sounds and darkness, yet a comforting feeling suggesting it as a familiar place to go when we want to hide from the world. “I Long to Be Free of Longing” is another interactive conceptual work created out of a found well-worn brief case. It is presented wide-open and inside there are a number of individual evenly sized small boxes with tops. Boxes are wrapped in fabric and tiny metal clasps invite viewers to lift each separate top. We sense a strong curiosity to find out what is inside each one. Lifting each top activates unique and separate sounds from the next. We are both confused and motivated to comb our memories for reference points for these sounds and their meaning. This exhibition is not a five minute walk through – spending time with these interactive works by three San Diego artists is a rewarding, self reflective and fun experience.

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