Solo Exhibition at HEREArt Gallery, Soho, NY, March 3- April 7, 2001
Sculpture Magazine
December 2001 Vol. 20 No. 10
review by Joel Silverstein
Installation view as seen in a convex viewing hemisphere of: POST-DIGITAL: 800 lbs. of Pixels, Artist: Devorah Sperber, HEREArt Gallery, Soho NY, March 2001
photo credit: Joshua Neffsky
Devorah Sperber, view of installation as seen in a convex viewing hemisphere. (Foreground) Lie Like a Rug, 2000-2001, 18,000 Letraset marker caps on canvas, 99 x 63 x 6 in.; Reflections on a Lake, 1999, 5,760 spools of thread, 6 x 10 ft.; Virtual Environment 1, 1999-2000, 20,000 spools of thread and 36 convex mirrors, overall dimensions, 21 x 8 x 8 ft.

New York

Sperber takes small modules or units of industrial production denoting the detritus of society and builds them into fantastic installations of visual aggregation and multiplicity. Mimicking old four-color reproduction, television, and contemporary computer imagery, she uses a special computer program to scan landscape photography into pixilated digits. These are blocked as coded color squares, which can be matched with a suitably toned industrial module. Viola! A sculptured mural of weight, gravity, and lyricism. The bridging of cheap industrial materials and epic size, scale, and a visuality lends Sperber's work a unique high/low impact not easily forgotten. The title piece, Virtual Environment (1999-2000), is composed of thousands of spools of thread. The image of a rural rock wall coalesces with the aid of the viewer's perception. It evokes 19th-century pointillist techniques, as well as the fractal, incremental nature of our own era. Color luminosity and richness of tone exist within the thread itself, yet they also serve as the equivalent of an abstracted brushmark loaded with pigment, the signifier of that planar form of expression, illusionist two-dimensional panting.

A smaller piece, Reflections on a Lake (1999), mimics the richness of Virtual Environment 1 by employing an Alpine mountain scene as a motif. The clichéd subject matter, in no way elevated from its hack photo-journalist origins, easily presents its own shadow image-this being a neo-Romantic sublimity orchestrated for spiritual uplift and respite. In Sperber's world, the finished statement is always tethered and moored to the means of industrial production, a lowly symbol of waste, ecological imbalance, and anti-nature. It also reflects the technology that so easily dispensed with the Romantic worldview of rugged individualism and the sublime.

The final sculpture of the show is Lie Like a Rug (2000-2001), an installation of thousands of permanent marker caps arranged in the ornate configurations of a Persian rug. The actual commercial color tabs on the markers act as the pixel in this instance, extending another traditional duality. Asian rugs and similar organic designs extricated from the forms of nature collapse as a process and are strangely represented as merely a series of pen caps, nothing more. Where, in the previous pieces illusionistic Renaissance space is ironized or broadened to encompass a Positivist materiality of technological origin, here non-Western design traditionally held as merely craft is elevated to the level of illusionist Renaissance space. The flattening of hierarchies, so often a hollow academic affair, is in this artist's hands cause for celebration. Sperber maintains an intimacy with the materials that would elude a lesser talent and demonstrates a philosophical intelligence that is readily apparent. As pixilated computer imagery dominates the media and evolves beyond film- or photo-based prototypes as the prescribed mode of reality and visualization, she has a ready subject matter for our time. Even as we crave nature as a construct in our lives, the irony of industrialization is always apparent. - Joel Silverstein

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