This month, TILT Export—the roving curatorial project Josh Smith and Jenene Nagy launched after closing Tilt Gallery and Project Space—has transformed galleryHOMELAND into a funhouse of sensory second-guessing. If the gallery's ad hoc space within the Ford Building has posed challenges for exhibiting conventional work, those artists who have worked with the building's idiosyncrasies have fared much better. With Approximate, a truly site-specific collaboration between sound artist Ethan Rose and the currently ubiquitous Damien Gilley, the artists have taken the space's usual distractions—railings, doors, encroaching pipes, and foot traffic to the building's businesses—and twisted them into fascinating focal points.
Rose's sound installation, "Passage," is full of rich, bellowing hammer dulcimer tones, submerged in a wash of musique concrète native to the building: echoing footsteps, the mumbled cadences of distant voices, doors closing, and rumbling trains. Composed of loops of varying lengths and broadcast through eight channels dispersed through the building, "Passage" creates the paranoid illusion that unseen activity is unfolding around every corner. At times, it's difficult to parse Rose's recordings from the building's own ambient sounds, creating a pleasantly disorienting hall-of-mirrors effect.
Gilley's installation, "Absorption Field," on the other hand, complicates one's sense of spatial relationships with a body of meticulously executed masking tape "drawings." These drawings conjure the clean lines of architectural blueprints as well as the 3D landscapes of vintage Atari arcade games, like Battlezone and Star Wars. But, Gilley's structures—barricades, watchtowers, and depots—draw viewers in with their trompe l'œil perspectives, only to reassert their depthless foundations. These works are most effective when Gilley incorporates elements from the space directly into the drawings. For example, a railed catwalk—likely to a utility closet—is repurposed as a pathway to an imagined marine lookout, as Gilley tapes out a second railing on the wall as a foreground to the structure itself. In all, "Absorption Field" shows Gilley's ability to fully explore a single idea—and the show's all the stronger for it. Matched with Rose's installation, Approximate disrupts the senses with far more precision than that name implies.