Tivon Rice: A Macrocosmic Zero

A Macrocosmic Zero is the title of Tivon Rice‘s second solo exhibition at Lawrimore Project in Seattle, on view through March 27.  Rice is a new media artist whose tactile approach seeks to present video as an object of use, and to integrate the observer as participant.  The current exhibition fills the front room of the gallery, a windowless space with concrete floors.  It is lit by two bright plasma screens and fluorescent bulbs suspended vertically from  wooden scaffolding. The bulbs sweep on and off in patterned surges of blue-white with a series of clicks and gentle hums.  A motor turns on and a central camera pans the room.  As the camera goes over a screen and films an image produced a few moments ago, a slow feedback happens, layering and obscuring the present space where the viewer stands, and also the viewer if he has caught a glance at the camera lens.  Rice’s video system is performing it’s routine.

The whole set is programmed for a unique experience for each viewer—a lighting display that doesn’t repeat for 18 days, a delay between the live feed and playback, a robotic camera that responds to motion, and sound feedback that swells, but never explodes.  A “finished” or composite image runs at the back of the exhibition.  This view allows spectators to see who enters the gallery and how others interact with the work.

The use of lights is at least a pragmatic choice, a basic component in office buildings and modern living.  Their stark whiteness casts no “cinematic” shadow on its subjects, and in video perfection, imperfections of the subject are clearly and initially displayed.  Through layering “real” images, subjects become formal elements of flat light. The macroscopic view of this work is what is observable to the human eye, and as the title suggests, this view is fleeting. As the art progresses, it periodically interrupts what has been displayed to return to “zero.”  The art is the mechanical and sensory performance, rather than what is recorded.

Rice also presents four video portraits that act as sketches or versions of the installation.  A face is seen in each one that the viewer continues to look for and find through swirling frames of mutation.  A final piece, the smallest in the exhibit, is a CRT monitor taken out of television presenting a static image of the artist.  For the amount of time in its title Self Portrait (3 days, 2 months, 10 days), an image of the artist’s face was lit on a small monitor.  The result is a “pixel burn,” an image made by exploiting the weakness of the display.  As it stays lit all over to show its ghost, it is undergoing its own decay as long as it is displayed.

Exerpt from 3 Studies for a Portrait of Bronwyn Lewis, 2010

Tivon Rice lives and works in Seattle, WA where is pursuing a doctoral degree at University of Washington’s Center for Digital Arts and Experimental Media (DXARTS).  He obtained his master’s degree from UW in 2006 and has been a Graduate Instructor there since 2007.  For his bachelor’s studies, he attended University of Colorado, graduating in 2000 with two degrees in Electronic Media and Sculpture.  He has had numerous solo exhibitions at galleries in the Pacific Northwest. His work is in private collections and his collaborative video of abstracted shaving cream with Jeffry Mitchell entitled Panda was acquired by the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle.  He has been in group exhibitions across the nation including the CUE Art Foundation in New York, and the Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa.  His work was included in 1000 Days at the Scion Installation Space in Los Angeles, curated by DailyServing.