More than ever, our culture seems obsessed with doomsday scenarios. Natural disasters, terrorism, pandemics and ham-fisted religious zealotry have whipped America into frenzied fear and anxiety -- except, of course, for late-night media evangelists Jack and Rexella Van Impe (Jack has a little orgasm every time a bomb goes off in Israel). "We spend $396 billion on military and defense each year, vote for politicians who support preemptive war, stock our fallout shelters, say our prayers and wait for the worst," says Graham Guerra, curator of "Hedonistic Imperative," a new group exhibit at Deborah Colton Gallery.
With humorous hopefulness, Guerra has imagined an anti-apocalypse -- a "psychochemical nirvana" awash in idyllic, futuristic imagery, largely based on futurist David Pearce Snyder's Web-published writings on post-Darwinian "paradise engineering" (check it out at www.hedweb.com). "I'd done a lot of reading of mad-scientist, trans-humanist stuff," explains Guerra, "where the belief is that the human race will be improved through silicone technology and bio-manipulation." While the conceit is silly, it's also antithetical to what Guerra describes as a "negative-feedback loop" that keeps people in competition but prevents us from getting along with each other.
Guerra chose artists that run the gamut in terms of mediums to represent the coming post-human, silicone-enhanced utopia. From the mutant human forms (gimps, cyborgs and automatons) of Michael Rees and Jerry Kearns to the technological animals of Carl D'Aliva (look for the dog with a V8 engine for a head), painting, sculpture, video and computational techniques are well represented.
Interestingly, just as "Hedonistic Imperative" rebukes the end of days, it also takes an antithetical stance on art-world trends. "I feel a certain level of artmaking is 'faux naive,'" says Guerra, referring to the popular tendency of artists to create childlike works and the embrace of "outsider art." The pieces in "Hedonistic Imperative," on the other hand, reflect their umbrella title well. "These works are very well made and flashy," says Guerra. Just like the idyllic, bionic future on the horizon. Show runs through March 4. 2500 Summer Street, third floor. For information, call 713-864-2364. Free.
Jan. 28-March 4