Design Density 

Cabinets of Curiosity at Tractor Gallery

art1-570x300.jpg

THE WUNDERKAMMER or "cabinets of curiosity," they're called—old-timey collections of things that defy category and evoke wonder. In the case of Chelsea Lynn Linehan and Nathanael Thayer Moss' collaborative show, Emperical Geodism, the intended Wunderkammer is a group of sculptures, paintings, and illustrations that explore geometry in organic and inorganic forms, depicting crystals and abstract design riffs while trying to establish themes of "societal superstructure." Ambitious, aye?

"Presbycusis," Moss' largest piece in the show, is a mural drawn in neon green tape on a gallery wall. If you can imagine a topographical map for an 8-bit terrain, you'll get somewhere close to Moss' mural: Continuous lines wrap around a spattering of sharp, abstracted shapes, looking equally like circuitry and something from a puzzle book. Here, Moss says he's thinking about sloppily planned cities and infrastructures—particularly, how these relate symbolically to messy social systems.

The analogs to this topographical "imperfect city" are Linehan's crystals and geodes. In "Sweetish Astringent Taste," Linehan combines paper, gouache, acrylic, and wood to create a solid-white 3D illustration of crystals, which stand like skyscrapers, jutting outward aggressively. Linehan describes the connection between cities growing on the earth's surface, and caves of giant geodes growing underneath, finding a place where organic and inorganic geometry mirror one another.

In keeping with the Wunderkammer theme, a large part of the goal is to create wonder and intrigue. Moss' "Microphonic Spectrum Analysis" does just that: Neon rays radiate from a central point, while boxy, interconnected shapes stutter and glitch away from it. Moss tells me that the idea was to invent something like an abstracted microscopic circuitry—in his words, an "unclear smoke signal," used to arrest the viewer with its ambiguity.

While the impulse to produce wonder through ambiguity is playful and fun, it seems to be prioritized over an elegant conceptual conclusion. Emperical Geodism's artist statement concludes, "The bare aggregation, infrastructure, and biomorphic qualities remain as the iconography," which could just as easily read something like, "the collection of objects are symbolic." That's some vague stuff, though the artists admit that the whole thing was a bit sarcastic to begin with—poking fun at spiritual crystal hunters—and this sarcasm might have been extended to the conceptual elements. Even if the show builds to a frustrating non-statement, it succeeds as a Wunderkammer, as well as at the aesthetic level. You can view the show in person by setting up an appointment with charles@tractorpdx.com.

Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Comments are closed.

From the Archives

More by Matt Stangel

Staff Pick Events

Most Commented On

Top Viewed Stories

All contents © Index Newspapers, LLC

115 SW Ash St. Suite 600
Portland, OR 97204

Contact Info | Privacy Policy | Production Guidelines | Terms of Use | Takedown Policy