Not Human

Brandon Lattu

February 28, 2013 – April 6, 2013 545 West 23rd Street

Press Release

Leo Koenig Inc. is pleased to present “Not Human”, Brandon Lattu’s fourth solo exhibition with the Gallery. “Not Human” centers around two distinct bodies of work, projected slide shows and sculptural photographic reliefs. Both types of work extend Lattu’s ongoing considerations about the current ideological stakes of the photographic image in relation to the archive as well as particular legacies of Modernism, including the readymade and the monochrome.

In the main gallery, two slide shows are separated by a long curtain and projected onto opposite walls. Culled from the artist’s extensive archive of more than 120,000 digital and scanned photographs, “Not Human” (2013) is comprised by a timed sequence of ordered images.

Within each frame, one finds the picture of an environment. Each environment includes a billboard, a bus shelter, a store window or some form of display in which the image of a person’s face is incidental. In this progression, no single image bears any relation to its previous image, formally or geographically. Frames are tethered by a very brief overlap between one illuminating and one disappearing face, both of which are situated in the same section of their respective frames; their common feature is position. Visage after visage, the overall sequence limns the digitally and surgically altered apparatus of idealized archetypes. These are constructed images of constructed people that have been presented in public for private adaptation.

On the opposite wall, another slide show flickers silently at a different rate. “Smarter Than A Dog, Faster Than Anything” (2013) takes as its starting point a single image, sometimes uncanny and more often banal, from Lattu’s archive. Each image has been run through Google’s image search engine in an effort to find a similar or corresponding match. The yield varies. A stucco wall painted peach near a patch of grass mysteriously attracts wedding images. Flesh attracts flesh. Each originary image repeats momentarily between approximations chosen by the artist revealing cosmologies formed by hit and miss results. The machine, though capable of accessing a greater breadth of images faster than any archive in history, often reveals its not-quite-human status.

An encounter with the second body of work on view, “Selected Compositions”, begins in the center gallery and coils into the east gallery. Further developing his “Random Composition” series from 2010, Lattu brings together four separate images from his archives to serve as the material (and conceptual) support for the monochromatic ‘face’ of a geometric sculptural volume that protrudes from the wall. The single color covering the face spills over each edge and fades onto the discrete depictive images that occupy each side, partially obscuring content. This obfuscation at once invites more detailed inspection and acknowledges a co-constructive relationship between pure image and pure color. While these works, like the slide presentations, adhere to a general format, each “Selected Composition” is unique in that it differs in shape, size, image and color according to the artist’s chosen preferences.

Lattu deftly builds upon his previous works with architecture and environmental signage (“Building Obscured by Signs”, 1999; “Miracle Mile”, 2000; “Repeat”, 2006; “Fleetwood Billboard”, 2010), archives (“Selected Products”, 2001; “Rejected Products”, 2001; “The Library Series”, 2006-2008) and projected images (“Water Under The Bridge”, 1998; “Untitled Slide Piece”, 2006), while still deferring to the subjective processes of archiving and editing that undergirded the Structuralist slide shows of Ad Reinhardt. Despite an ever expanding, sped up, and ubiquitous image world, Lattu refuses the oppositional position of pure abstraction and presents a case for the use of photographs – analog or digital – as tools for critical knowledge production and agency.

Brandon Lattu’s work has been shown in solo exhibitions at The Happy Lion, Los Angeles, Leo Koenig Inc., New York, Vacio 9, Madrid, Monte Clark Gallery, Vancouver and the Kunstverein Bielefeld, Germany. Recent group exhibitions include: “Electric Fields, Surrealism and Beyond”, Museum of Contemporary Art, Shanghai; “Attitude Cinema”, Pesaro Film Festival, Italy; “How Many Billboards”, MAK Center for Art and Architecture, West Hollywood; “Walker Evans and the Barn” at the Stedelijk Museum; Amsterdam; “Image for Image”, at the Museum Ostwall, Dortmunder, Germany; “Tractatus Logico-Catalogicus”, Vox centre de l’image contemporaine, Montreal; and “The Movement of Images”, at the Centre Pompidou, Paris. Lattu lives and works in Los Angeles. He is an associate professor at U.C. Riverside.