Santa Fe is a town ruled by painters, but New Mexico’s brilliant light attracts pioneers of other media as well. City Different digital-artists-in-residence include Steina and Woody Vasulka, founders of The Kitchen in New York City, and Peter Sarkisian, who has exhibited his projection-mapped sculptures everywhere from SFMOMA to the Whitney. “Plugged In” features seven established and emerging artists who take their cues from digital art and post-1960’s abstraction. The Vasulkas and Sarkisian do not appear here, but the show falls directly in line with New Mexico’s new media legacy. Just like the Vasulkas, these artists blend minimalism with motion to create assertive, highly experimental pieces.
Anne Farrell’s “Billboard,” which hides in a banged-up silver crate and features grainy animations of advertising lingo, could be a time capsule from 1970’s Chelsea. Matthew Kluber blends painting and digital video, projecting flowing light patterns across alkyd abstractions on aluminum. The works are explorations of color field theory at hyper speed. Surprisingly elegant images of bathroom floor tiles flash endless combinations of colorful patterns in a video series by Noah Klersfeld. Christian Haub and Matthew Penkala present works that are inconspicuously unplugged. Haub’s gridded wall sculptures in cast acrylic throw a mesmerizing glow on the walls behind them à la James Terrell, while Penkala’s acrylic paintings draw us into acid-tinged voids that could be an android’s fever dream. Most excitingly, emerging artists C. Alex Clark and Chase Stafford represent the next wave. Clark transforms a television into a spectral shadow box, with a nod to Nam June Paik. Stafford projects images of fluorescent light fixtures on narrow screens, adding another layer of detachment to the stark minimalism of Dan Flavin. Their work is a dazzling reminder that new media is the ever-advancing final frontier of visual art.