No Time Like The Present :
Curated by Eli Kerr
Espace Gallery, Montreal, Qc
March 14, 2014 - March 21, 2014.


Mathieu Lambert

Installation view:
No time like the present, Julian Garcia, Mariana Czapski & Aidan Pontarini.




In 2009, the year following the global financial collapse, Deutsche Bank unveiled a 70 foot Carbon Clock on the corner of West 33rd and 7th Avenue in Manhattan. Designed in collaboration with scientists from MIT, the towering digital display counts the amount of global carbon emissions per second. The clock has 13 digits which were populated with an inaugural value of 3.64 Trillion tonnes of carbon with an emission rate of 800 cubic tones per second. Negotiating a visual hierarchy of billboards within the urban canopy this totemic piece of architecture reveals raw data in red numbers climbing at a steady if not increasing rapid pace. The Carbon Clock is a relic of our time. A disaster spectacle that towers over the street audience below rendering a sense of awe and helplessness through its sheer aestheticization of information. Today information has become highly visual, dually the enhancement of images can be attributed to their inscribed digital information. Graphs become esoteric jpegs when dragged, dropped and detached from their context, respectively our digital family photographs are encrypted with metadata. Within this collapsing moment of technological integration data-images become emergent forms in a new environment, where screens replace windows as the live pictorial frames from which we see the world.

Just as image editing software has standardized the production of images, it has also produced a new vernacular of visuality; both the artist and the art director now use the same tools. In his essay Art in the Age of Terror, Boris Groys suggests that the artist working in this climate can no longer lay authorial claim over the field of image-making (1). Distribution of the artist’s work today flows within the same channels of contemporary mass media, where the sophisticated design of individually targeted advertisements conflate with the apparatus of social media to produce a singular stream of content.

In these precarious times of looming ecological disaster, algorithmic trading, domestic surveillance, no end in sight warfare and other systemics which centralize power, it is now more important than ever for art to remain a social form of critical production. As contemporary mass media exists alongside, within, and over top of today’s artwork, a responsibility is bestowed upon the artist to elevate their visual literacy and redirect their production towards a means of navigating and decoding the data-image.

The works in this exhibition come together to reflect on the potential for artistic response towards the current shift. A wall in the gallery divides the space into two chambers, where images move across monitors and canvases, entertaining their juxtaposition while suggesting their hybridization. Electronically traded stocks become the notes to a sound composition, while an accumulation of found digital images form a proposition for a future documentary film. Three artists offer differing approaches to painting as a continual medium to document and extrapolate upon the contemporary moment. Notions of urban retraction under digital compression are continuous through the works, as a video work captures the center of global finance continuing with daily operations under dim light and bleak prospects.


1 “Indeed, the contemporary mass media has emerged as by far the largest and most powerful machine for producing images ... it seems that the artist – this last craftsman of present-day modernity – stands no chance of rivaling the supremacy of these commercially driven image-generating machines.”

See: Groys, Boris. “The Fate of Art in the Age of Terror.” originally published in Making Things Public: Atmospheres of Democracy. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2005.




Mathieu Lambert

Installation view:
No time like the present, Tracy Xu & Mathieu Lambert.


Mathieu Lambert

Mathieu Lambert, American Night [New York City Skyline],
Video Loop.
2013.


Mathieu Lambert

Julian Garcia, Power Station1 [Hydro-Electric leak],
Acrylic on Acetate, LED lighbox, electricity.
18" x 24".
2013.



Mathieu Lambert

Tracy Xu, Cosmos FA-Rectification From Upon The Earth.,
Video.
2013.



Mathieu Lambert

Aidan Pontarini, Suicide Painting #3 [I melted my face off],
Oil on paper. 22" x 30”.
2014.



Mathieu Lambert

Aidan Pontarini,Suicide painting #5 [I hacked myself apart],
Oil on paper. 22" x 30”.
2014.



Mathieu Lambert

Aidan Pontarini, Suicide painting #6 [I threw myself in a sewer],
Oil on paper. 22" x 30”.
2014.



Mathieu Lambert

Mariana Czapski, Sounds like a Crash: Music with stock market prices from the 2008 crash.
4:04, Max Msp/Csound video capturey.
2013.



Mathieu Lambert

Olivier Blanchette, Wall Piece no. 1.,
Huile sur toile marouflée
18" x 11”.
2013.