Sunday, November 25, 2012

Volatilia at Barrister's

 Last year's Automata exhibition exhibition of robotic sculpture at the Old Iron Works on Piety Street was so spectacular that it was only logical to wonder what might come next. In fact, the moon, the stars and curator Myrtle von Damitz' extended family obligations meant that this year's expo of Automata artists would morph into the more subtle Volatilia exhibit at Barrister's. Intended as “a pseudo-mystical exposition,” it takes its name from a term the poet Coleridge used to mean “winged words” of the sort logged in his Volatilia day book for “impounding stray thoughts.” At Barrister's, they appear as unlikely devices that suggest flight or escape, mechanical concoctions imbued with, if not consciousness, then at least attitude. There is a modestly Mad Max aura about much of this, as if the industrial revolution had been suddenly slammed irrevocably into reverse and made far more personal and whimsical.

 Travis Linde's Loki's Carriage combines archaic Visigoth technology with sense of drama in the form of something like a three wheel stroller, comprised of iron and animal parts, for baby barbarians. Rachel David and Noel Bennetto's Bird Brain Brand, above, is a hand cranked and hand forged multiple-wing device, perhaps a prototype for industrial flying machines devised by a species of crows with corporate ambitions. But if the avian species went corporate, what will happen to bird songs? Fear not, Taylor Shepherd and Delaney Martin produced WNEB87.9, a functional radio station capable of broadcasting their chirping for perpetuity. Other bird inspired concoctions include Ersy's mini-sculpture, Seeker, top, a kind of bicycle with feather wings, a propeller and trainer wheels for a fledgling mini-Icarus. Elizabeth Shannon and Jacqueline Mang take us back to the future with relics of flying creatures we never knew existed, but Megen Lee-Hoelzle's preserved faeries in four inch glass jars offer proof, of sorts, of a humanoid species capable of flight long before the Wright brothers. Here evolution appears to have taken a more intimate alternate route. ~D. Eric Bookhardt

Volatilia: Group Show of Automata Artists Curated by Myrtle Von Damitz, Tuesdays-Saturdays Through Dec. 2, Barrister's Gallery, 2331 St. Claude Ave, 710-4506;