The title Better Look Twice implies a double gaze scenario focusing on the art object, however a more appropriate examination would include the audience themselves. Art objects are visual events filtered through the audience‘s expectations. Just as light in the form of electromagnetic waves bounce off surfaces, so too does the awareness of art history and context that the viewer brings to the act of perceiving the work. “Meaning” does not permeate or emanate from objects, but rather is reflected back to its source, the viewer.
Popping the proverbial bubble of expectation for the sake of awaking the viewer has become the staple of artistic endeavor. How this is done is examined in Better Look Twice. For these artists the similarity seems is the overt or subtle camouflaging of their work. The original purpose and design of camouflage is to visually conceal a combatant into a particular environment, and deceive adversaries. However in any other context, a soldier displayed in full camouflaged gear is an overtly contrasting their environment. Simulation or reproduction of known environments in art becomes synonymous with camouflage. This deception is merely a vehicle to undermine visual assumptions and wakes the viewer up through visual re-evaluation and contradictions of everyday objects and circumstances. Mario Ybarra Jr. states “camouflage is really a matter of context, who is hiding and who is watching. I think that the role of the artist is to wear the hunter’s orange (the bright saturated color that stands out so as the hunter won’t be shoot) and the audience is the other hunter with the gun. The artist is simultaneously wearing camouflage to hide yet wants to be seen”. Carlee Fernandez, through the painstaking art of taxidermy, sculpts a natural and commercial world on the brink of unbounded synthesis. Fernandez seems to bring a utopian peace and Zen-like wholeness to a world of genetic engineering, and chemical toxicity.
James Higginson states “tricks of theatrical presentation are used in a subversive way to call attention to violence.” Through photography, Higginson inverts staged violence to portray the portrayers of violence, our media. Professionally known as a Prop Master, Higginson has first hand knowledge of Hollywood style staging of unreal events. Higginson’s critic of real violence is performed via the most acceptable and contemporary form of violence, theater.
Ruben Ochoa takes violence to an absurd level though his detailed photo documents of “shopping cart accidents.” This work seems to suggest the 6 o’clock news making its way into the arts, however not as a purveyor of truth but rather of smoke and mirrors.
Jaime Scholnick cuddles us with images of “Hello Kitty” and corners us with huge depictions of assault rifles drawn in massive wall installations. In an approaching age of terrorism and paranoia, Scholnick elaborates and blends these western fears on to the most treasured character of eastern pop culture. Rambo meets Hello Kitty.
Holly Topping re-visualizes or reclaims urbanization through painting over photographs. As if beaming us back to a time before asphalt and drainage problems, Topping wipes clean an urban sprawl with soft brushing. Mario Ybarra Jr. collects bizarre samplings of life through film and transformed everyday objects.
Liat Yossifor. The influential Op-art painter Bridget Riley stated that the space of a painting happens between the actual painting surface and where the viewer is standing. She claims that painting has a sculptural quality that can motivate its viewer to spatially examine it. Liat Yossifor successful accomplishes this feat by using low contrast and color ranges that defy its audience to see it successfully at any distance. This work contradicts the common sense idiom that the whole is a sum of its parts.