Oct 24 - ongoing
Puzzle is a new work commissioned by M+. It is a program that places interlocking graphical tiles, accompanied by circular dialogues, endlessly in a browser. The work is intrinsically bilingual and its single interactive feature is a language toggle that permits different views of the situation. The situation travels forward and backward in time, accumulating a picture that enables one to glimpse the forces that govern certain beliefs and breakdowns.
Inspired by role-playing video games, Ryan Kuo’s Puzzle rebuilds conversations from his personal history as a first-generation Taiwanese American growing up in rural America. In looping, disembodied encounters, themes of diaspora emerge. Chinese values such as Confucian patriarchy and filial piety encounter American idealism and self-preservation. Instead of viewing these as opposing forces, Kuo attempts to piece them together across the barriers of memory and language.
Puzzle is durational and is intended for desktop and even larger displays. Access the project here.
The work was co-curated by Kate Gu and Kerry Doran. Translation by Yuling Zhong. Web development by Tommy Martinez.
Conceptions of White
MacKenzie Art Gallery
Aug 6 - Nov 13, 2022
My work File: A Primer is part of Conceptions of White, a traveling exhibition from MacKenzie Art Gallery “offering context and nuanced perspectives that help viewers grapple with contemporary configurations of White identity.”
The exhibition examines the origins, travel, and present reality of “Whiteness” as a concept and a racial invention that classifies degrees of civility/humanity. Select historical objects and artworks illustrate White origin myths within their historical context, revealing Whiteness as a North American, settler-colonial invention of the seventeenth century, created alongside “Blackness” and “Aboriginality.” The contemporary artists in this exhibition complicate this historical foundation by examining how these acts of racialization are felt today through concepts of White guilt, anxiety, supremacy, benevolence, fragility, and power. [...] The exhibition is framed through a biracial lens with both curators seeking a clearer understanding of their own relationship to Whiteness.
The show also includes Artist once known, Jeremy Bailey, Deanna Bowen, Jennifer Chan, Nicholas Galanin, Ken Gonzales-Day, Arthur Jafa, Michèle Lalonde, Barbara Meneley, Robert Morris, Nell Painter, Howardena Pindell, Hiram Powers, and Fred Wilson.
Many thanks to the curators, John G. Hampton and Lillian O’Brien Davis.
Shall Make, Shall Be
Federal Hall National Memorial
Jul 4 - Aug 31, 2022
A new work Father Figure is on view in Shall Make, Shall Be, a group show about the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution. It is installed with works by nine other artists and game designers at Federal Hall, where the "Founding Fathers" wrote the Bill of Rights.
Father Figure is based on the Ninth Amendment, which reassures Americans that we have numerous rights that are not listed in the Constitution, although it's unsaid what they are.
I built America as a command-line interface, where fuller access to the system, or naturalization, is contingent on piecing together an arbitrary language, rules, and conventions, and is thereafter made a "natural" expectation.
If those unlisted American rights are naturally known, then they are apparently owned, the way that objects and ideas and people might all be owned, as private property that is seemingly always about to be lost or stolen.
Owing to the vagueness of the Ninth Amendment, I took this opportunity to drag the American individualist, an atomized user who can only grasp at straws when encountering forces beyond its own purview (such as other people, places, priorities, pandemics), to its foregone conclusion.
Fumbling toward its horizon, that user might hatch a plan to riot and break into the U.S. Capitol, in search of ... Dad?
Thanks to the organizers: R. Luke Dubois, Laine Nooney, John Sharp, Golan Levin.
(A web-playable version and further documentation of this work are forthcoming. I also demoed an early version in this online talk with the Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry.)
Conversation with Zach Gage
Thanks to Outland for organizing and publishing this conversation with artist and game designer Zach Gage.
GAGE That’s another way in which your work is embodying the moment that is not fully surfaced. There’s an interplay in what you’re doing where it feels to me that you’ve found a place where you can be a radical while still succeeding at feeling like you’re being accommodating. You’ve managed to do it in a way where you feel comfortable because you locate these bureaucratic zones that are ready to be occupied. I wonder how that factors into the experiences and observations about the NFT space, and your work there?
KUO None of that is by design, but it came out of a certain kind of relation to a dominant culture. The interactions with collectors and NFT prospectors that have been disturbing to me are those in which I’m feeling the depth of their expectation and their own sense of the power that they think they have, or maybe do have, due to the amount of capital they’re sitting on. In the same way that this one-click collecting framework is being built around me, I feel a real threat in being expected to help engineer one-click relationships to myself and to my work.
GAGE I think that’s an important contextual component of what crypto fundamentally does. It’s a way to bring a free market to any space, which is a substantial, powerful thing to be able to do. When it’s done, everyone in the space becomes either a vendor or a customer, which comes with a whole host of expectations that are totally different from being an artist.