David Rohn Pricks Media Echo Chamber at Carol Jazzar Contemporary
If you've ever played the game Telephone, in which a person whispers a message to another and then it passes on down the line successively until the last player announces the message out loud to the entire group, you know it makes for a great metaphor for cumulative error, the inaccuracy of information and fallible human recollection.
On a much larger scale, and in our media-saturated society, it also reminds one of the incestuous amplification of talking head opinions and the echo chamber effects of how many people today receive and process information.
These are some of the issues David Rohn is mining in "Small, Medium, Large," his cerebral solo exhibit at Carol Jazzar Contemporary Art. A show that explores concepts of hierarchy and perception while offering a stinging commentary on how critical discourse has surrendered to complacency in our Republic.
For his brainy backyard opus, Rohn constructed two replicas adjacent to the French art dealer's peaked roof garage gallery. One is exactly half the size of the main gallery space, and the other structure exactly half of that.
Each contains identical elements scaled down to size. The only difference from space to space is the electronic information being beamed inside.
Here is where things get blurry. During the show's opening, Rohn's performance took place behind a curtained-off space in the back of the full-sized gallery in front of a camera beaming it live into the outer chamber. Although he remained silent, an audio track recited a 30-minute loop of slowed down rant creating a dissonant cacophony sounding like bleating, wounded animals over snippets of newscasts mentioning threats of terrorist attacks in Time Square and jumbled statements referencing food, water, and art.
As spectators watched Rohn's talking head dummy on screen, a camcorder at the rear of the room captured them in the gallery watching the artist's televised performance. That footage was beamed into the smaller space where a camcorder in the back relayed the visual noise to the third and smallest space, where viewers -- squatting on the ground to peek inside -- experienced an image of an image of an image of a live event receiving their information not unlike the game of Telephone.
The implications of the increasingly diluted information is obvious. Here Rohn tackles the corridors of power in Washington D.C., where those with the highest security clearances are privy to the forces molding government. He also speaks to Wall Street and the financial hierarchies of wealth in this country, and to the entertainment industry in Los Angeles that homogenizes culture for society's largest audiences.
Rohn also subtly references what he has called the "industrial art complex" in the past to remind one of the closed feedback networks driving the business of art today in which museum honchos and powerful moneybag collectors conspire to produce and package our art stars.
His show reminds us how information is ricocheted through the ether and how media outlets often parrot uncritical reports culled from unreliable sources which is in turn successively passed down the line earning an air of accepted fact.
Rohn has raised a bright red flag on several complex issues with this show that demands the widest audience possible so do yourself a favor and don't miss it.
See "Small, Medium, Large" Carol Jazzar Contemporary Art (158 NW 91st Street, Miami) through October 30. Call 305-490-6906 or visit cjazzart.com. Event is free to public.
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