Last-look: How To Water

Once upon an August in 2014, 10 net artists convened on the Greek Island Serifos. In isolation on the island for a week— and marking their first IRL meeting— they assembled to activate an experiment: ‘to create freely, under the theme how to water.’ From this 7-day cohabitation hosted and organized in the home of Theoklitos Triantafyllidis, a body of work was born and sourced from the fluid landscape— culminating in a slow floating exhibition that utilized the sea as a medium for presenting a series of video and sculptural interventions created and sourced during this collective mediation. Fast forward one year later and many miles west to the residual effects of this idea realized in the new media group show How To Water at Eastside International.

Though mention of the show’s conception seems to have been lost in the well curated conservation and localization presented by Shelley Holcomb and Theo Triantafyllidis— the lack of a source reference mirrors the very nature of the internet itself:  a sea where history is interchangeable, time is malleable, and deceiving constructs of authenticity and the infinite flow under bridges of instant access. What I find most hypnotic about this thoughtful grouping is how each artist differentiates in their fractalization of our most basic element: water is visualized through a stream of emoji tears; a fabricated bed; a trio of sculptural Samsung screens… a vessel of fluidity transpiring a contained yet unresolved dialogue.

Entering the rectangular space, we are thrust into a stream of overlapping projections, each window looping an artist’s video and illuminating the sculptural installations and interactive websites strewn within this cybernetic pool— claustrophobic in heightening the familiar constant clicking, flipping, and scrolling, hazing our daily interaction and differentiation between url and IRL. Oscillating between figments of the synthetic and the organic, man and machine, questions of materiality— its source, replication and sustainability— form in a digitized wake. As our reservoirs are drained and our thirst for ‘more’ accelerates, the origins of where ‘it’ came from will likely be less noted.

In the end, the concerns I initially saw as obstacles for this show during its preliminary LA incubation, work to be supremely advantageous. Open by appointment only, access has indeed been limited, but the ephemerality of this showcase makes it all the more effective. A temporal aquatic membrane where water penetrates every architectural patch in an animated path, How To Water invites us to be mesmerized, playful, and nonchalant, in the darkness of water’s simulated reflection.

Closing tonight with a reception propelling participation to a whole new multimedia level featuring the Institute for New Feeling’s ‘hi definition steam room,’ Watermark.mov, and Watering the Plants: a Liquid Symphony, a performance by Work & Play. 6-10pm at Eastside International (DTLA). Details.

All photos © Theo Triantafyllidis