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Observer Effect

Friday, January 18, 2013–Saturday, March 09, 2013

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Artists: Jessica Hyatt, Steffani Jemison, Jochen Lempert, John O’Connor, Steve Roden, and Jorinde Voigt

Across media and approaches, Observer Effect examines how artworks incorporate processes akin to the scientific method as a means to examine and understand specific phenomena that exist in the world. Each artist ’s idiosyncratic approach of observing and understanding his/her distinct subject matter reveals the artist’s own subjectivity through this process, and discloses how each artist, the observer, is part of what is being observed.

Phenomenon is defined as that which is observable: things, events, or experiences, including that which is observed through technology. Today, in an information age, our conceptions of phenomena are greatly expanded. Beyond the natural world, history, discourse, images, texts, interactions, and so much more become phenomena ripe for examination. Information as object and landscape creates new observable experiences and sets of phenomena.

As we encounter these proliferating phenomena and relationships among them, how we understand them becomes ever more important. A step further is the reconsideration of how knowledge is built. The basics of the scientific method—asking a question, conducting background research, offering a hypothesis, testing the hypothesis in an experiment, analyzing the data, and drawing a conclusion—offer a pathway both to understand our changing world and to reflect on the new forms of thought necessitated by it.

Our goal in this exhibition is to reveal how keenly observation and investigation are a part of artistic practice and how in an artistic approach much of that activity is imbued with the subjective. That subjective element is an effective artistic tool. Observer Effect proposes to reveal just how useful that tool is, and the dynamic relationship between artist, process, and artwork.

CURATORS BIOGRAPHIES

Carrie Gundersdorf is an artist whose paintings and drawings use various modes of abstraction and observation to explore the idea of discovery and wonder, what is attainable through empirical knowledge, and where our own resources both limit and expand our experience. She has had solo exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Julius Caesar, Chicago; Shane Campbell Gallery, Chicago; and Gahlberg Gallery at the College of DuPage, Glen Ellyn, IL. She has participated in group exhibitions at Regina Rex, Brooklyn, NY; Marc Foxx Gallery, Los Angeles; Proof Gallery, Boston; Loyola Museum of Art, Chicago; the Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago; Western Exhibitions, Chicago; Kavi Gupta Gallery, Chicago; Tony Wight Gallery, Chicago; and SWINGR, Vienna, among other venues. Gundersdorf is the recipient of an Artadia Award and a Bingham Fellowship for the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. She has a BA from Connecticut College and an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Lorelei Stewart Head ShotLorelei Stewart, Director of Gallery 400 since 2000, has organized over 40 exhibitions, including the Joyce Award-winning exhibition Edgar Arceneaux: The Alchemy of Comedy…Stupid (2006). In 2002, she initiated the acclaimed At the Edge: Innovative Art in Chicago series, a commissioning program that encouraged Chicago area artists’ experimental practices. She holds a BA from Smith College, a BFA from Corcoran College of Art and Design, and an MA in Curatorial Studies from Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Whitney Moeller
Assistant Director
312 996 6114
gallery400@uic.edu

OBSERVER EFFECT AT GALLERY 400

Observer Effect

Curated by Carrie Gundersdorf and Lorelei Stewart
Gallery 400
Chicago, IL
January 18–March 9, 2013

Image: Steve Roden, Striations, 2010–11, two 16mm films with ink transferred to video, 6:00 min. (still).

January 8, 2013—Chicago, IL—Featuring artists Jessica Hyatt, Steffani Jemison, Jochen Lempert, John O ’Connor, Steve Roden, and Jorinde Voigt, Observer Effect
examines how artworks incorporate processes akin to the scientific method as a means to examine and understand specific phenomena that exist in the world. Each artist ’s idiosyncratic approach of observing and understanding his/her distinct subject matter reveals the artist’s own subjectivity through this process, and discloses how each artist, the observer, is part of what is being observed.

Phenomenon is defined as that which is observable: things, events, or experiences, including that which is observed through technology. Today, in an information age, our conceptions of phenomena are greatly expanded. Beyond the natural world, history, discourse, images, texts, interactions, and so much more become phenomena ripe for examination. Information as object and landscape creates new observable experiences and sets of phenomena.

Rather than a rigid scientific approach, John O ’Connor ’s methodology involves invented systems that produce drawings that are more reactive to data than they are to concrete representations. His process is haphazard but not aimless—relying on chance and reassessment. With a highly interdisciplinary approach to art-making, Steve Roden investigates source material through self-invented restrictions, though always leaving room to make intuitive and reactionary decisions. The series Stone ’s Throw began when Roden found several half-carved stones that his grandmother had left in her sculpture studio after she had passed away. He investigated the stones through a new mode of observation that challenged his previous artistic processes, culminating in activities that he claims seem to reference a history of ritual as opposed to contemporary art. Through these investigations, the stones were used as visual references for his decision-making while he created work that materialized into a series of paintings, drawings, a video, and a sound work. Steffani Jemison investigates the identity of 16-year-old Derrion Albert, who was tragically murdered in 2009 in Chicago. Jemison uses excerpts from the inspirational poem “If I Could,” a copy of which was found by Albert’s bedside. The artist manipulates the text, creates an inkjet print, scans it, and re-prints it on acetate. The new acetate print is layered with pieces of brown paper that function as contrivance and intervention, creating an image that is never entirely stable or complete. Jochen Lempert ’s photography is a combination of scientific research, documentation, and conceptualism. Lempert studied biology before he began exploring photography in the 1990s. Since then, his work has captured occurrences in the natural world that are rarely noticed by the average person. The photographs transcend mere documentation through recontextualizing the subject or occurrence into near abstraction. Jessica Hyatt explores the lives of other unrelated Jessica Hyatts, and in doing so, she creates a dialogue between the individual Jessica Hyatt and the singular Jessica Hyatt name. Through this investigation, the artist repeatedly produces forms that are distinct to each Jessica Hyatt that she investigates. Who is Jessica Hyatt? Jessica Hyatt is a dessert chef at a restaurant called Farm 255 in Athens, Georgia. Jessica Hyatt owns a horse named Conquer the Magic in upstate New York. Jessica Hyatt is everyone whose picture profile comes up on a search on Facebook. The large-scale drawings of Jorinde Voigt exhibit a particularly human perception of the natural world through subjective algorithms and diagrams that create a visualization of data that suggests temporality through spiraling and crossing lines—more reminiscent of documenting esoteric experience than rigid schematics. To this end, Voigt ’s visual dialogue transcends the source; whether it is electrical currents, wind patterns, kisses, or the flight of eagles.

As we encounter these proliferating phenomena and relationships among them, how we understand them becomes ever more important. A step further is the reconsideration of how knowledge is built. The basics of the scientific method—asking a question, conducting background research, offering a hypothesis, testing the hypothesis in an experiment, analyzing the data, and drawing a conclusion—offer a pathway both to understand our changing world and to reflect on the new forms of thought necessitated by it.

In Observer Effect, curators Carrie Gundersdorf and Lorelei Stewart reveal how keen observation and investigation are parts of artistic practice and how that practice is often imbued with the subjective. That subjective element is an effective artistic tool. Observer Effect proposes to reveal just how useful that tool is, and the dynamic relationship between artist, process, and artwork.

Related Programs:

Opening Reception

Friday, January 18, 5–8pm

Sound Performance by Steve Roden
Tuesday, February 26, 9pm
The Burlington, 3425 West Fullerton Avenue

Artists ’ Discussion
With Julia Fish, Jessica Hyatt, Steffani Jemison, and Steve Roden
Wednesday, February 27, 6pm

Things and Their Various Natures
Film and video screening curated by Deborah Stratman
Wednesday, March 6, 7pm

Tours:

Gallery 400 offers guided tours for groups of all ages. Tours are free of charge but require reservation. Please complete our online form (accessible on our website at gallery400.uic.edu/visit/tours) to schedule a tour of Observer Effect. For more information, or to discuss the specific needs and interests of your group, please contact us at 312 996 6114 or gallery400@uic.edu.

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Observer Effect is supported by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; the College of Architecture and the Arts, University of Illinois at Chicago; and a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.

Founded in 1983, Gallery 400 is one of the nation’s most vibrant university galleries, showcasing work at the leading edge of contemporary art, architecture, and design. The Gallery’s program of exhibitions, lectures, film and video screenings, and performances features interdisciplinary and experimental practices. Operating within the College of Architecture and the Arts at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), Gallery 400 endeavors to make the arts and its practitioners accessible to a broad spectrum of the public and to cultivate a variety of cultural and intellectual perspectives. Gallery 400 is recognized for its support of the creation of new work, the diversity of its programs and participants, and the development of experimental models for multidisciplinary exhibition.

EXHIBITION CHECKLIST

Jessica Hyatt

Allow Me to Introduce Myself, My Name Is Conquer The Magic, 2008–
Oil on canvas and engraved metal, 40 x 30 in.
Courtesy the artist

Jessica Hyatt ’s Signature Dessert, 2013
Bread pudding, cream custard, raspberry jam, and raspberries
Courtesy the artist
Available Tuesday–Thursday on the hour from 10am–5pm

Jessica Hyatt ’s Signature Ramekins, 2009–
Ceramic ramekins, dimensions variable
Courtesy the artist

Zeno’s Paradox; Thank God for Infinity, 2010
Cibachrome print mounted on inkjet print mounted on inkjet print, and scan of Cibachrome print mounted on inkjet print mounted on inkjet print; eight works, each 16 x 16 in.
Courtesy the artist

Steffani Jemison

Untitled (Affirmations for Living), 2012
Inkjet print on acetate, tape, gesso, newspaper, and hardware; two works, each 36 x 48 in.
Courtesy the artist

Untitled (Affirmations for Living), 2012
Inkjet print on acetate, tape, gesso, newspaper, hardware, and custom painting panel; two works, each 36 x 48 in.
Courtesy the artist

Untitled (Transparency), 2011
Toner print on acetate, gesso, panel, and found paper; three works, each 18 x 24 in.
Courtesy the artist

Jochen Lampert

Fly, 2008
Four silver gelatin prints, each 9 3/8 x 7 1/8 in.
Courtesy gallery ProjecteSD, Barcelona

Libelle, 2003
Silver gelatin print, 11 5/6 x 9 3/8 in.
Courtesy gallery ProjecteSD, Barcelona

John O ’Connor

Highs and Lows 1, 2009
Watercolor, ink, colored pencil, and graphite on paper, 94 x 59 in.
Courtesy the artist and Pierogi Gallery

Horror Crash, 2010
Acrylic, colored pencil, and graphite on paper, 75 1/2 x 58 in.
Courtesy the artist and Pierogi Gallery

SUSEJ, 2011
Colored pencil on graph paper, 43 x 25 in.
Courtesy the artist and Pierogi Gallery

Steve Roden

addendum 1, 2011
Twelve-page booklet
Edition of 750
Courtesy the artist and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects

third stone, 2010
Oil and acrylic on linen, 26 x 22 in.
Courtesy private collection, Topanga, CA

fourth stone, 2010
Oil and acrylic on linen, 40 x 20 in.
Courtesy Blake Byrne, Los Angeles

sixth stone, 2010
Oil and acrylic on linen, 22 x 38 in.
Courtesy the artist and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects

striations, 2011
16mm film transferred to video, 6:00 min.
Courtesy the artist and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects

distance piece (striations), 2011
Sound installation
Courtesy the artist and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects

Jorinde Voigt

Epikur (1), (7), (7/2), (12), (13), and (14), 2012
Ink, graphite, and gold leaf on paper, each 20 x 14 1/8 in.
Courtesy Michael and Jacky Ferro

Epikur (2), (3), (4), and (5), 2012
Ink, graphite, and gold leaf on paper, each 20 x 14 1/8 in.
Courtesy Anne and Kenneth Griffin

MEDIA COVERAGE

Chester, Alicia. “Observer Effect.” artslant.com, January 24, 2013.

Pearson, Laura. “Observer Effect at Gallery 400.” timeoutchicago.com, February 7, 2013.

PRINT COLLATERAL

Handout: Observer Effect

Postcard: Observer Effect

Poster: Observer Effect

Poster: Jessica Hyatt’s Signature Dessert

Observer Effect is supported by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; the College of Architecture and the Arts, University of Illinois at Chicago; and a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency. Howard and Donna Stone and Jeff Stokols and Daryl Gerber Stokols provide general support to Gallery 400 programs.

EXHIBITION CHECKLIST (EXPANDED)

Jessica Hyatt

Allow Me to Introduce Myself, My Name Is Conquer The Magic, 2008
Oil on canvas and engraved metal, 40 x 30 in.
Courtesy the artist

Jessica Hyatt ’s Signature Dessert, 2013
Bread pudding, cream custard, raspberry jam, and raspberries
Courtesy the artist

Jessica Hyatt ’s Signature Ramekins, 2009
Ceramic ramekins, dimensions variable
Courtesy the artist

Zeno’s Paradox; Thank God for Infinity, 2010
Cibachrome print mounted on inkjet print mounted on inkjet print, and scan of Cibachrome print mounted on inkjet print mounted on inkjet print; eight works, each 16 x 16 in.
Courtesy the artist

Jessica Hyatt ’s (Chicago, b. 1977) work goes beyond identity—she is concerned with the conceptual space that exists between the singular and the individual. The singular encompasses a particular object, entity, or idea. The individual suggests each iteration of the singular. For example, a score of music is a singular object—it will always be the same. But every time that score is performed, it will result in an individual performance. For Hyatt, the ways in which these concepts blur and bleed create opportunities to consider identity, individuality, difference, and sameness. She explores this space by investigating people that share her name, repeating forms and ideas that are traceable to other Jessica Hyatts and their lives.
Jessica Hyatt ’s Signature RamekinsJessica Hyatt ’s Signature
Dessert
reference a Jessica Hyatt who was a dessert chef at
the restaurant Farm 255 in Athens, Georgia. The work
materializes as hundreds of ramekins—single-serving
dessert dishes—that are marked with Jessica Hyatt ’s
initials. The artist uses the ramekins to bake “Jessica Hyatt ’s
Signature Dessert,” which is based on two dishes frequently
served at Farm 255. Offered to visitors for consumption, the
desserts disappear but the ramekins remain. Hyatt ’s artistic
process, in which characteristics and/or information are
isolated, reproduced, and exaggerated, is similar in two other
pieces: Allow Me to Introduce Myself, My Name is Conquer
The Magic
and Zeno ’s Paradox; Thank God for Infinity. In the
former, the artist painted the likeness of a horse belonging to
yet another Jessica Hyatt. In Zeno ’s Paradox, she compiled
profile pictures of every Jessica Hyatt on Facebook, reducing
their images into a single color code. Through the use of
different printers, Hyatt demonstrates that, while color is
singular, each rendering of it is individual.
Considering the artist ’s conception of the singular and the
individual, one could ask, who is Jessica Hyatt? She is a
dessert chef; she owns a horse named Conquer The Magic in
upstate New York; she is everyone whose picture comes up
on a Facebook search. She is everyone and she is no one.

Steffani Jemison

Untitled (Affirmations for Living), 2012
Inkjet print on acetate, tape, gesso, newspaper, and hardware; two works, each 36 x 48 in.
Courtesy the artist

Untitled (Affirmations for Living), 2012
Inkjet print on acetate, tape, gesso, newspaper, hardware, and custom painting panel; two works, each 36 x 48 in.
Courtesy the artist

Untitled (Transparency), 2011
Toner print on acetate, gesso, panel, and found paper; three works, each 18 x 24 in.
Courtesy the artist

Through the use of improvisation and repetition, Steffani
Jemison (New York, b. 1981) explores how we make sense
of our lives and histories. She is an interdisciplinary artist
whose work is concerned with the questions that arise when
conceptual practices are impacted by black history and
vernacular culture. Her process investigates text, material,
sequence, and form in a variety of ways. Most recently, this
inquiry has focused on acetate as a support for her
photographic works. Acetate, because it is transparent,
facilitates opportunities for layering throughout Jemison ’s
work.
The works included in Observer Effect use the inspirational
poem “If I Could” as the starting point for a series of
interventions. The text, originally the prologue to a street
fiction novel, was found on the walls of Derrion Albert ’s
computer room. Albert, a Chicago high school student, was
brutally beaten and murdered in 2009. The poem is written
entirely in the present conditional tense: “If I could, I
would . . . ” until the final line, which states: “and I can, so I
will.” Jemison reworks the poem over and over again,
investigating the text as a resonance of Albert ’s life. For the
works in the Affirmations for Living series, Jemison
subjected the text to multiple reproductions, printing it on
paper, scanning the pages, and reprinting them on acetate.
Pieces of brown paper, newspaper, and advertisements are
inserted as contrivance and intervention. The Transparency
series extends the poem ’s conditional phrase in three altered
versions, producing an unfixed temporality that is tethered
to one ’s sense of self. Jemison ’s reworking of the poem and
layering of media result in images that are—like identity—
never entirely stable.

Jochen Lampert

Fly, 2008
Four silver gelatin prints, each 9 3/8 x 7 1/8 in.
Courtesy gallery ProjecteSD, Barcelona

Libelle, 2003
Silver gelatin print, 11 5/6 x 9 3/8 in.
Courtesy gallery ProjecteSD, Barcelona

Jochen Lempert ’s (Hamburg, b. 1958) photography is a
combination of art, scientific research, documentation, and
conceptualism. Having studied biology before he began
making photographs in the 1990s, Lempert continues to be
deeply influenced by his scientific background. Focusing on
animal life and natural phenomena, frequently in conjunction
with the built environment, his images are made through a
variety of both experimental and traditional processes that
mimic the innate order and randomness of the natural
world. His photographs transcend documentation by
recontextualizing the subject or event to the point of near
abstraction. Working with a 35mm camera, Lempert shoots
in black and white, developing the silver gelatin prints
himself, typically on heavy, matte-surfaced photographic
paper. This process gives them an unfinished quality—which
is accentuated by the fact that the pictures are exhibited
without frames—allowing the works to exist in a liminal
space between photography and drawing.
Fly is a series of four photographs that depict the insect
in mid-flight. The fly becomes suspended, quiet, and
unnaturally still against the out-of-focus background.
Similarly, Libelle shows a dragonfly strangely hovering in
an anonymous space. The photographs capture a fleeting
moment, which is made possible by the fast shutter speed
and telescopic use of Lempert ’s camera. Lempert ’s unique
process of observation provides viewers opportunities to
see the natural world anew.

John O ’Connor

Highs and Lows 1, 2009
Watercolor, ink, colored pencil, and graphite on paper, 94 x 59 in.
Courtesy the artist and Pierogi Gallery

Horror Crash, 2010
Acrylic, colored pencil, and graphite on paper, 75 1/2 x 58 in.
Courtesy the artist and Pierogi Gallery

SUSEJ, 2011
Colored pencil on graph paper, 43 x 25 in.
Courtesy the artist and Pierogi Gallery

John O ’Connor ’s (New York, b. 1972) work makes visible
that which is ordinarily invisible. Using a topic of personal
interest as the basis of his drawings, O ’Connor experiments
with data collected through his own haphazard,
indiscriminate research. To compose his drawings,
O ’Connor invents systems that visualize his idiosyncratic,
subjective reactions to this data. Relying heavily on chance,
his constantly evolving process becomes an integral part of
the final works.
In order to create the center square of the drawing SUSEJ

(“Jesus” spelled backwards), O ’Connor devised a procedure
to translate the first words of the bible into corresponding
colors. Each colored square represents a different letter. The
shape surrounding this central square is produced using the
same color and square process but is randomly
generated, without a referent. Horror Crash takes its title
from a 2009 New York Post headline “8 Die in Horror Crash,”
which refers to a crash that occurred on a New York
highway frequently travelled by his wife and child. In this
work, O ’Connor considers chaos and chance, believing it
luck (or perhaps fate) that his family was not on the road at
the time of the accident. The artist initiated the drawing with
the letters from the headline, translating each into a random
number. He further manipulated those numbers,
developing layers of numeric systems that informed the
drawing ’s composition. The result is a visualization of trying
to comprehend chaos, chance, and luck. The largest
fluctuations in the history of the United States stock market
serve as the basis for the vibrantly colored shapes and
patterns in Highs and Lows 1. O ’Connor translated the
stock market data into a structure comprised of statements
of great confidence and insecurity that were culled from
a book transcribing the words of people under hypnosis.
O ’Connor ’s work presents the information, data, and chaos
of the world re-interpreted through the patterns of form and
color.

Steve Roden
addendum 1, 2011
Twelve-page booklet
Edition of 750
Courtesy the artist and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects

third stone, 2010
Oil and acrylic on linen, 26 x 22 in.
Courtesy private collection, Topanga, CA

fourth stone, 2010
Oil and acrylic on linen, 40 x 20 in.
Courtesy Blake Byrne, Los Angeles

sixth stone, 2010
Oil and acrylic on linen, 22 x 38 in.
Courtesy the artist and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects

striations, 2011
16mm film transferred to video, 6:00 min.
Courtesy the artist and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects

distance piece (striations), 2011
Sound installation
Courtesy the artist and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects

Despite their appearance of spontaneity, Steve Roden ’s (Los Angeles, b. 1964) works are derived from a process of transformation, translation, and decision making. As Roden describes it, he “uses various forms of specific notation (words, musical scores, maps, etc.) and translates them through self-invented systems into scores, which then influence the process of painting, drawing, sculpture, and composition. These scores, rigid in terms of their parameters and rules, are also full of holes for intuitive decisions, failures, and left turns. The inspirational source material becomes a kind of formal skeleton that the abstract finished works are built upon.”
In the visual works, translations of information such as
text and maps become rules and systems for generating
visual actions such as color choices, number of elements,
amounts of time, and form building.
Roden ’s Stone ’s Throw series began when he found
several half-carved stones that his grandmother—a
sculptor—left in her studio after she had passed away. In
their unfinished state, these stones are objects in
transition, occupying a space between nature and sculpture.
In the process of creating paintings, drawings, sculpture,
film, and sound, Roden repeatedly referred back to the
stones to make visual decisions. The film striations translates
the static, interrupted information of his grandmother ’s
unfinished stone sculptures into a state of engagement and
activity. The film contains imagery of Roden interacting
with and recontextualizing the artifacts found in his
grandmother ’s studio.

Jorinde Voigt

Epikur (1), (7), (7/2), (12), (13), and (14), 2012
Ink, graphite, and gold leaf on paper, each 20 x 14 1/8 in.
Courtesy Michael and Jacky Ferro

Epikur (2), (3), (4), and (5), 2012
Ink, graphite, and gold leaf on paper, each 20 x 14 1/8 in.
Courtesy Anne and Kenneth Griffin

Jorinde Voigt (Berlin, b. 1977) relies on traditional
materials such as ink, oil stick, pencil, and watercolor to
create her drawings. The artist combines drawing and text
to document both real and fictional events—for example,
the flight of eagles, wind patterns, top-ten pop charts, and
kisses. Voigt relies on exacting methods to create her work:
algorithms determine the directions of a line or the
Fibonacci sequence is used to fix the number of lines. Her
work creates a visualization of concepts and phenomena
that suggests temporality through their spiraling and
crossing lines—more suggestive of esoteric experience than
rigid schematics. In Voigt ’s meticulously drawn chaos the
relationship between process and result is laid bare.
Epikur is a series of drawings inspired by the ancient Greek
philosopher Epicurus and his text On Nature. Epicurus
advocated the scientific tradition of atomism, which
assumes particles and atoms are the smallest unit of matter.
Voigt uses gold leaf as a pure element, alluding to the purity
of the Epicurean soul. Voigt sees her work as music—you
do not need to know how to read a score in order to enjoy
it. To this end, Voigt ’s visual elements transcend the
complexity of their sources, whether real or fictional.