Peering through a seemingly ancient golden mask, one glimpses video of the moon rising over city lights. A painting depicts Greek amphora and brightly colored polyhedrons against a landscape that’s equal part Magritte and early Star Trek. MacKenzie Peck and Ryan Browning separately tackle the big questions in life – mortality, the sublime, meaning, perception. Together they are “Time Bandits,” borrowing from each of these mysteries in ways that are poignant and occasionally funny as they reach for the sublime.
Ryan Browning’s paintings are strange, delicious, haunted things. He builds them like games, setting recognizable and abstract elements one at a time into a typically shallow pictorial space, until the outlines of a story begin to emerge. Indeed, he cites role playing and video games as influences alongside the history of painting, and thinks of the canvas as an interactive surface much like a computer screen. In new work, he pushes his explorations further in the direction of mapping, from the distinctive perspective of a J.R.R. Tolkien map, to the virtual worlds of video games.
MacKenzie Peck uses a range of media – including photography, video and sculpture – to convey the beauty and futility of mankind’s attempts to capture ephemeral experiences in permanent form. Lines and clumps of knotted string dyed a deep ultramarine blue suggest Eva Hesse’s immersive sculptures, Yves Klein’s signature sublime hue, and the Quipus, or “talking knots” of ancient Andean civilizations. A full roll of snapshots prove to be poor documentation of small exploding firecrackers in a floor sculpture that encourages reflection on the nature of memory. Repeated depictions of the night sky connect the viewer to countless generations who’ve looked to the stars for meaning, and at least been rewarded with beauty.
Browning and Peck are joined on May 31 by Mina Cheon, artist and author of Shamanism and Cyberspace, and David “Zeb” Cook, legendary game designer best known as the architect of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons’ 2nd Edition to discuss the exhibition and reflect on the differences between real, imagined, remembered, invented and virtual landscapes.