While wandering around Bushwick a couple weeks ago during Open Studios, I found myself suddenly set a path of redemption. Although there was at least umpteen places to be, the main objective was to visit Bushwick Generator to experience Parallel: Artist Evolved, a brilliantly interactive exhibition brought to us by curator Keli Lucas and artist Justin Muñoz. Having already missed the opening reception days before, this was the last chance to engage what is easily one of the most unique exhibition to debut this year.
Upon walking in the spacious location one isn’t sure what to expect. A brief but well done film plays on an expansive brick wall, artwork is placed strategically along the other walls and to the left side of the space there is also what appears to be a VR station. Muñoz sits at the station with a knowing smile in his eyes as he sets it up for the next user. There is a bit of an inquisitive thrill that runs through your body once you start to piece things together; but there is a part of you that wants to play it cool and survey the physical works before diving straight into the VR.
Featuring works by Gazoo to the Moon, Smurfo Dirty, Jessica Bajoros, Nicholai Khan, Mike 2esae and Keli Lucas herself, the physical exhibition had a very fluidly diverse lineup. There was an empowering and commentative narrative that was informative and sociopolitically aware. However, the real adventure begins when you put on the OCULUS Rift Headset and go inside each of the artists’ separate virtual exhibitions.
The first two virtual exhibitions eases you into the experience. Works by Bajoros and Lucas allow you to gain your orientation while still encouraging you to explore and discover the space within. By the time you get to Smurfo and 2esae things show a major shift as the exhibitions start to incorporate more movement and environmental detail. Gazoo’s exhibition also stands out as it suspends you amongst the stars, swarmed by phosphorescence arrows as you gaze at a distant moon. Muñoz shared that during Gazoo’s exhibition some users decided to lay down and drift through space.
Of course you have to see it to truly “believe” it but the overall gesture of the exhibition is what really has the most ripple effect. When you pay closer attention to the film that is playing on the large brick wall and you see the fascination and sheer wonderment on the faces of the artists who are creating these works.
“We wanted to take artists from different categories in the physical realm (fine art, street art and graffiti) and see what they would do once placed in a limitless, surface-less platform. Where not only do you never run out of materials, but you can paint with anything. Light, fire, bubbles… etc. It was exciting for us to watch them as it was for them to meet this new universe of possibilities.”
– Keli Lucas
Lucas and Muñoz really do move the needle with Parallel and further advance conversation surrounding the growing union of art, technology and where this union lands within the spectrum of the art world. In fact, Parallel also exposes the art world and the act of creativity to an untapped audience. So many artists find themselves bound, tethered and even alienated by the convenience and availability of materials. The use of Google’s Tilt Brush software also really opens up possibilities for existing artists who may lack access but still need an outlet for their creativity. Parallel not only examines the present, it questions and helps shape the future and the nature of materials and space. Parallel is a clairvoyant portrait of a new age that lies not to far ahead of us.
Akeem is our founder. A writer, poet, curator and profuse sweater, he is responsible for the curatorial direction and overall voice of Quiet Lunch. The Bronx native has read at venues such as the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, KGB Bar, Lovecraft and SHAG–with works published in Palabra Luminosas and LiVE MAG13. He has also curated solo and group exhibitions at numerous galleries in Chelsea, Harlem, Bushwick and Lower Manhattan.