Review: "Exurb: Input/Output"

Review: "Exurb: Input/Output"

It's very appropriate that this interactive audio/video installation at the Joanna is running simultaneously with the Stan VanDerBeek survey at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston. In the main room at the Joanna, the creators of "Exurb: Input/Output," artist-engineers Johnny DiBlasi, Steven Kraig, Patrick Renner, Sam Singh and Eric Todd have constructed two Plexiglas arches outfitted with theremins and tube amps that respond with tone variations and video manipulations on four screens when bodies maneuver under and around them.

The piece is a kind of comment on social media, the idea that our daily movements leave electronic imprints through the pervasive presence of wireless technology.

The artists are admittedly influenced by VanDerBeek's experiments in computer imaging, and the installation is deliberately designed to display the technological implements it utilizes--you can see the theremin antennas, amplifiers and computer equipment encased in the clear Plexiglas. But the audio "action" is subtler than we expected. The installation's dominant sound is a loud, aggressive drone reminiscent of the soundtracks of David Lynch films (the artists are fans), and there's a kind of nightmarish feeling of sinister surveillance, especially in the way one video projection tracks human bodies visually, in real time, through the electric signals received by the theremin. It makes you want to turn off your GPS and suspend your Facebook and Twitter accounts (at least for just a little while).

Saturdays and Sundays from 2 to 7 p.m.through July 15. The Joanna, 1401 Branard, 713-825-1803. - TS

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Contemporary Arts Museum Houston

5216 Montrose Blvd.
Houston, TX 77006

713-284-8250

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