David Byrne: Tight Spot and Social Media, at Pace Gallery in Chelsea

The Chelsey Gallery, featuring David Byrne's Tight Spot

The Chelsea gallery fall season is now in full swing, and last night we were lucky enough to attend one of the coolest openings in town, the panel discussion and party for music legend / author / conceptual artist / bicycle advocate David Byrne's dramatic sound and sculptural installation Tight Spot, as well the excellent Social Media group show right next door. The weather was crisp, food trucks were out in full force, and creative types roamed the West 20s, laughing and drinking and checking out all of the new shows. Really felt like fall in New York City.    


David Byrne's Tight Spot

Anyway, David Byrne's Tight Spot is a great site-specific installation, a giant inflatable globe squashed under the High Line on 25th Street, looking for all the world like, if it wasn't for those two girders holding it back, the whole thing would explode onto the street. Adding to the sense of (slightly cartoonish) doom is Bryne's soundtrack to the piece, for which he layered and lowered and looped his voice into a kind of pulsating urrrroop urrroop urrroop rhythm. And it will be the last installation ever on the outdoor site, as Pace Gallery (who curated Tight Spot), is building a new gallery on the lot. Definitely worth checking out. 

David Byrne discussing his art at the Pace Gallery in Chelsea

Also totally worth seeing is the Social Media group exhibition which just opened in the Pace Gallery adjacent to Tight Spot. Every piece in Social Media uses the internet in some way, often to generate the actual material of the work. What was surprising about the panel discussion we saw last night, headlined by David Byrne and filmmaker / author / artist Miranda July, was how ambivalent, and even wary, the artists were about "social media" itself. Byrne, for example, famously has no Facebook or Twitter account, and July, even though she has used the internet to great success to both facilitate and promote her projects (excerpts from one of which, the great, classic Learning to Love You More, makes up her contribution to the show), claimed to not even really enjoy being online. 

Penelope Umbrico's Sunset Portaits

The panel discussion was interesting, but the real excitement for us was the Social Media exhibition itself, featuring nine different artists and their take on how we interact with each other on the internet. We really liked Christopher Baker's Murmur Study, which has twenty printers churning out actual, live Twitter tweets that contain common emotional shorthand like meh, argh, grrr, and ewww. But probably our favorite pieces were three clever and funny composites by Penelope Umbrico, including Sideways TVs, composed of dozens of tiny photographs of television sets, taken from the side, which she culled from Craigslist ads for used TVs; and the genuinely beautiful Sunset Portraits, pictured above, for which she chose a walls-worth of shots "from the 9,623,557 Flickr Sunset pictures on 8/21/11."     

Penelope Umbrico's Sunset Portaits from photos on Flickr    

David Byrne: Tight Spot, and Social Media at Pace in Chelsea details 

David Byrne's Tight Spot is located in an empty lot on 25th Street just west of 10th Avenue, and can be seen Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. (no special nighttime viewings, Pace?!?) through October 1. Pace's Social Media exhibition is next door in a gallery proper, same hours, until October 15. For more information about David Byrne's Tight Spot or the Social Media show, please see the Pace Gallery website, here.  


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