Space Folding

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Space Folding

October 15 – November 14, 2021

Exhibition Install, Images Courtesy of the Artist, and Praise Shadows Art Gallery.

Artist Talk
James Clar and Zachary Lieberman, Artist and Adjunct Associate Professor of Media Arts and Sciences at the MIT Media Lab
Monday, October 18 at 7 pm ET

The recording is now available on our YouTube channel here.

Praise Shadows Art Gallery is pleased to present Space Folding, the Manila-based American artist James Clar’s debut in Boston. Recognized internationally for his diverse art practice that spans digital media, light sculptures, and new technologies, the exhibition highlights his global reach by bringing to Boston artworks created at his studios in Dubai, New York, and Manila. Clar will also introduce new light works made specifically for this exhibition. 

An artist talk between Clar and Zachary Lieberman, Artist and Adjunct Associate Professor of Media Arts and Sciences at the MIT Media Lab, will take place as a virtual program on Monday, October 18 at 7 pm ET. The program is free and open to the public upon registration here.

Employing a wide range of technological production processes, Clar has developed his own open-ended systems involving light and sculpture that explore the ways in which technology can alter narrative forms. What is visible and apparent at first glance is often just the surface layer of a more complex story.

In the series Freefall (seen in the top image), Clar creates radiant lines using an arrangement of LED tubes with colored light filters, drawing upon a visual language commonly seen in animation and comic books. The lines cohere to form the outline of a figure suspended, or falling, in mid-air. The work is at once static and thrillingly dynamic.

Clar’s background as a filmmaker informs his sculptures in unexpected ways. In Nobody’s Home, the canvas is an ordinary door, an unusual choice given its seeming mundanity. Clar’s intervention is minimal, too, and yet it changes everything: a sliver of light emanating from the crack at the bottom of the door reveals the presence of another person skulking around on the other side. The viewer understands that the door is against a wall, that there is nobody there. But the feelings conjured up within the viewer based on the manipulation of light and shadow itself — a central theme in Clar’s creative practice — is very much real.

Nobody’s Home, Wood door, LEDs, microcontroller, 95 cm x 207 cm x 7 cm, Edition 2 of 3;

One of Clar’s most recent works is Run Dog Wild (2021), a single-channel video created in Manila during the Covid pandemic lockdown. In this work, we follow along as a laser projection of a sprinting dog races through the most densely populated city-proper in the world. For 24 minutes, Clar’s ‘virtual’ dog (or ligaw aso, Tagalog for wild dog) bounds across buildings, cars, busses. Every once in a while, it sprints past pedestrians, but the city is virtually empty in comparison with its pre-pandemic life. Whose domain is it now? The dog’s loping, uninhibited speed through the streets forces the viewer to rethink the reality of physical space and how we occupy it: What is real anymore? Clar gives us a new vision of Manila, of urban life itself, one that inverts our notions of reality and forces us to rethink our physical relationship to virtual worlds. This is Space Folding.

Run Dog Wild, 15m 30s Video Loop, Edition 2 of 5

About the artist 
James Clar (Filipino American b. 1979, USA) studied Film and Animation at New York University and received his Masters from NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program. His work explores the conceptual and narrative potential of light and technology. These systems are integrated into our daily lives, altering the way we receive information and communicate. They inform our perception of reality, time, and space. Every system for communication enhances certain types of information while limiting and simplifying others. These modulated effects to our perception have become a thematic focus to his works and a way to experiment with narrative forms.