Speed of Light Machine
For his exhibition, Speed of Light Machine, 2011, Ephraim Russell transforms the DCCA gallery wall into what could be considered the world’s lowest-resolution TV monitor. Approximately 700 fiber optic strands are connected to a computer terminal that plays digital videos off of the ubiquitously popular website, YouTube. Unlike a new TV that delivers crisp, high definition images, Russell’s giant “monitor” depicts indecipherable images made up of abstract patterns of light. Re-signifying the traditional white gallery wall as an older-model box TV, the artist initiates a playful critique of art institutions, technology, and entertainment in our everyday lives. As an artist, Russell resists the global push for progress and insatiable desire for “high-tech” gadgets and instead presents us with a dysfunctional art object—a “low-tech” symbol of obsolescence and frustration. As a sculpture, the work can also be considered emblematic of the artists’ ironic nostalgia for the Sci-Fi B movie genre. Yet, while science fiction films often portray time as one of a host of fantastic travel options for the future, Russell’s Speed of Light Machine ultimately transports us back down to Earth, where he would seemingly suggest we might be hitting a wall of illumination derived from a high-speed web connection.
Gretchen Hupfel Curator of Contemporary Art