Annka Kultys presents Metamirrorism, an installation featuring projector paintings by New York-based artist Signe Pierce.
Through the use of instantaneous recording and projection within a space mediated by light sources, mirrors, lenses and dichroic film, Pierce takes the gallery’s visitors as her raw material to create an immersive, reflected, refracted and abstracted universe of the ephemeral. Metamirrorism is the artist’s second solo show with the gallery in London.
With Metamirrorism, Pierce continues to develop her longstanding belief that ‘reality is a medium.’ Treating the gallery space as if it were a single abstracted painting, or virtual abstraction, Pierce has created an optical tableaux that explores multi-dimensional reality; a ‘reality painting,’ the content of which appears different to each and every beholder. In lieu of painting’s traditional tools of oils and brushes, Pierce has used the components of contemporary perception: time, space, light, cameras, screens, projections and viewers’ individual cognitions to create the necessary conditions for Metamirrorism. Live video images from cameras are fed into projectors, whose images are reflected off mirrors and other reflective objects placed within the space, creating physical (and significantly, not digital) manipulations of actual forms, without being rendered unreal. Thus all abstractions generated within Metamirrorism are simply as they seem – there is no digital manipulation, software interference or virtual programming used to create the bending and warping aspects of light and space.
In a departure from her previous performative artworks, such as Big Sister is Watching You (2016) and American Reflexxx (2013), in which Pierce utilised her own body to question ideas of censorship, anonymity, patriarchal hierarchy and the weaponisation of technology, Pierce has consciously chosen in Metamirrorism to remove herself as the focus of the work, instead empowering anyone entering the gallery space to become the work’s centerpiece. The lives of the gallery goers and the presence of their physical bodies becomes the medium of the installation, embodying Pierce’s identity as a reality artist.
Pierce debuted at Annka Kultys Gallery last year with Faux Realities, an exhibition of 30 photos that questioned the nature of truth and artifice within the digital image. Faux Realities asked viewers to ponder the perception of truth within her the works: “Are the subjects, colours and locations in these images authentic, or were they fabricated?”, “How much Photoshop or digital manipulation went into creating the finished piece?” By contrast, Metamirrorism asks the viewer to engage with a visual abstraction, exploring the ease with which perception may be moderated and optical limitlessness achieved, without any digital interference and using only a camera’s unedited live feed and the reproduced images from a projector.
Ideas of perception and reality, truth and artifice have challenged mankind for millennia. In his Republic (520-514 BC), Plato posited the Allegory of the Cave to explore the beneficial effects of enlightenment (or education). In the allegory, a group of prisoners live out their lives chained to the wall of a cave, watching shadows projected onto the cave wall from people and objects passing in front of a fire burning behind them in the cave. The shadows are the prisoners’ reality. Plato suggested an enlightened person is akin to a prisoner who has left the cave and learns that the shadows on the wall are not reality, for she can perceive the true form of reality rather than the artificial reality of the shadows. Pierce’s use of projection and reflection to cast images onto the walls of the gallery evokes easy comparison with the shadows in Plato’s cave. If Pierce’s Faux Realities was an invitation to consider what is real within an increasingly simulated world, then Metamirrorism builds on those ideas, exploring notions of a populace beholden to an all-enveloping, shadowy, fabricated reality, increasingly unable to distinguish the real from the virtual, the authentic from the artificial, the pure from the mediated.
Signe Pierce was born in Arizona in 1988 and currently lives and works in New York. She received her BFA from the School of Visual Arts in 2011.
Pierce’s practice encompasses performance, writing, video and interior design. She aligns and identifies with the notion of being a ‘Reality Artist’, a term Pierce acknowledges is at once enigmatic and paradoxical by nature, melding two highly subjective and contested concepts (Reality and Art). Pierce uses her body, the camera and her surroundings to produce films, performances, photographs and web-based works with a singularly flashy, neon, urban aesthetic. Through her work, she posits questions regarding gender, identity, sexuality and reality within an increasingly digital world. She starred in and was the co-creator of the highly acclaimed short film, American Reflexxx.