Zilvinas Kempinas, Analog
September 2–October 9, 2021
Gallery Hours: Tuesday–Saturday, 11 AM–6 PM
In his first solo exhibition with the gallery, Zilvinas Kempinas presents a suite of works that punctuate historic and newly debuted moments of his career. Kempinas’ practice is motivated by curiosity and efficiency of means. He calls on readymade objects juxtaposed with invisible forces—air currents, magnetism, or gravity—to be his sculptural components. Analog engages these elements through a number of works that translate the artist’s own inquiries into shared experiences.
A fan attached to a bicycle wheel spins lengthy strips of magnetic tape at the entrance of the gallery. Sounds of white noise fill the space as the tape, sourced from a VHS cassette, oscillates in a tangled, sparkling descent. The tape’s primary function, to carry data, is usurped in favor of its ability to act as an artifact of universal communication. Kempinas repurposes this outdated industrial medium into a physical phenomenon with a visceral presence.
Panels, an installation across all walls of the gallery, also utilizes magnetic tape yet elicits a different response through its static, symmetrical placement. Part optical illusion, part mirror, the installation demonstrates the artist’s mastery of quotidian items as sculptural entities. Evenly spaced vertical lines manipulate the gallery’s architecture with reflective periphery, turning sight lines into expansive planes. This site-specific work is transformative, but once removed is merely a leftover of outdated technology. Kempinas revels in the transience of the magnetic tape, reinforcing it as an expendable readymade. At the rear of the gallery, Flaming Tape implements a similar arrangement with a performative difference—an industrial fan and select pieces of untethered tape. The fan’s breeze guides the tape into captivating gestures reminiscent of smoke or flames until it powers off, leaving the untethered strands in a mesmerizing free fall.
Elements of surprise are nested within each of Kempinas’ works, but unlike a magic trick, wonder still remains when the inner workings are revealed. Bearings is another example of Kempinas’ ability to harness invisible forces. This kinetic sculpture hosts thousands of small ball bearings that sit half-submerged in mineral oil. Below the surface, magnets are positioned on a slowly rotating disc that inform sequences of abstract patterns. The piece performs new designs for an endless duration. Nautilus, a debut work within the exhibition, introduces a large round disk suspended horizontally from a single wire cable in the ceiling. Ball chains drip along its perimeter, cascading in different lengths while the sculpture slowly revolves. The rotation of this work—turning clockwise, slowing down to a stop, then reversing—creates overlapping optical scenes that continuously evolve into new shapes. Nautilus plays on the intersection of the ball chain with the vertical lines of Panels in the background, inciting the sensation of presence through vibration and movement. The sculpture is entirely transparent, shaped by gravity and toned by its own internal light.
Analog is the piece from which the exhibition gains its title. Minted with an NFT for this occasion, the video resembles a digital rendering of two rectangular shapes animated by chaotic motion. However, the only digital component of this work is the recording. Analog was produced by filming two pieces of paper attached to string that are enlivened by the breeze of a fan. It is a perfect encapsulation of Kempinas’ use of simplicity to inspire illusion. Analog as a noun means to compare—as a technological term it defines the opposite of digital. This exhibition uses physical formats of technology to incite an emotional, subliminal connection with the viewer that reveals art’s ability to act as a visual instrument.
bitforms gallery would like to thank the Lithuanian Culture Institute for their support of the exhibition.