bitforms gallery is very pleased to announce Subsurface Hell, Sara Ludy’s first solo exhibition with the gallery.
The works in Subsurface Hell investigate digital feng shui. While the ancient Chinese doctrine identifies physical, cosmic, and psychic energy, Ludy applies its philosophical methodology to her lived experience online. The organization of our physical environments affects us deeply: there is something to be said about the feel of a certain room, or how you like to lie on a particular side of the bed. Ludy’s practice distills her movement through virtual space. Following the tenets of feng shui, the exhibition design further reflects on this.
The name of a folder on her computer, Subsurface Hell is an archive of found photos Ludy has collected since 2000. Though there are many themes within the folder—everyday life, domesticity, interiors, objects, life forms, virtual reality—narratives emerge from the continually growing archive. The feed epitomizes Ludy’s notion of the digital uncanny: content is recognizable in its form, but removed from experience. Everything happens all at once and is irreducibly flattened: cute animals, memes, terrorist attacks, photos of family and friends, natural disasters. In the deluge of content, none of which can be absorbed in its entirety, Ludy saves images to fully process her online experience.
Low Prim Room (2012 – 2016) is an installation with a selection of 1056 found images from this living archive; a digital painting from Ludy’s Clouds series is projected as the border. Named after the terminology in Second Life to describe a 3D object containing very little information (and thus having a small graphic footprint in one’s limited 3D real estate), Low Prim Room centers in on the feeling certain images contain and emit. Twelve images from the set are enshrined on the rear wall, grouped together because of similar formal qualities or subject matter. The appearance of the room resembles a tokonoma, a recessed area in Japanese homes dedicated to art, giving weight to images that may otherwise be scrolled by, ignored, or unseen. Linked to a website that began as Ludy’s Low Prim Tumblr archive in 2012, new images are always being uploaded. This feed is viewable online at low-prim.com.
Ludy’s image making process is a sort of digital catharsis, a mythology where she becomes a conduit for the glut of images online. This is her method for processing information and transforming its energy into something more holistic. In Cloud Relief 1 and 2 (2015 – 2016), the source material dissolves into charged virtual mist. These pooling ashes crystallize into Animistics (2013 – 2016), a series of mystical objects.
An online work, xzw9hz8hzy9yx1j23hwy2x09uzj.us (2015), serves as an extension of the exhibition.
Please join us for Ludy’s live audiovisual performance \O/ on January 21 at 7:30 PM. Details forthcoming.
Sara Ludy’s practice investigates the confluence of the physical and virtual. Her works include websites, animation, video, sculpture, and audio-visual performance. Traversing the online virtual world Second Life, Ludy photographs domestic interiors, landscapes, and other scenes that are iconographically familiar, yet feel otherworldly. Alongside this practice, she three-dimensionally renders architectural forms and sculptures, each one imbued with the mysticism of the digital uncanny: a space between what is known and unknown, within reach but just out of grasp.
Previous exhibitions of Ludy’s work include Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Chicago; Berkeley Art Museum, California; Honor Fraser, Los Angeles; bitforms gallery, New York; Postmasters Gallery, New York; Klaus von Nichtssagend, New York; Interstate Projects, Brooklyn; Eyebeam Center for Art and Technology, New York; Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver; Western Front, Vancouver; Kuenstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin; Carroll Fletcher, London; Espace Verney-Carron, Lyon; and C-Space, Beijing.