L.A.-based artist Diana Thater's mind-bending artwork is so effective in part because of an often overlooked aspect of her artistic process–installation. Thater deeply considers setting in her work, and utilizes space in a way that that emphasizes the architecture and the surfaces upon which she shows her pieces so that the room itself becomes a part of the art. Fortunate, then, that the 1301PE Gallery at 6150 Wilshire Blvd., within spitting distance of the LACMA (where Thater was recently honored with a comprehensive mid-career survey), offers beautiful territory for her explore in her ninth exhibition with the gallery, titled Colorvision, and currently on view until November 5th.
Thater's highly innovative work has been transformative in the world of projection art and video installation. Since the early '90s she has continued to expand the medium in which she works, incorporating a formal and technical element into her artmaking process. This embrace of technology may seem at first thematically incongruent with the subjects of her artwork, which often explore the conflicts between human culture and civilization and nature, but Thater insists that "visible technology, beauty and pleasure (which are one and the same) are not antithetical to one another but may exist simultaneously in the work of art and may produce the sublime."
As 1301PE Gallery describes the series, "Colorvision consists of 8 individual monitor pieces. Each vertically-hung monitor displays the name of a color along with a bouquet of flowers in a different, complimentary, color. The colors used are those of the video spectrum: red, green, blue (primaries); cyan, magenta, yellow (secondaries); purple and orange (tertiary). The word "RED", for example, appears with cyan flowers, while the word "CYAN" appears with red flowers. The series is based on a neurological test that is given to people to decipher the relationship between sensation and language." Thater is interested in this conflict in how we discern visual and textual information, and she suggests that it illuminates something fundamental in how we perceive art: "It's especially difficult for a viewer to think about color and language simultaneously and the dichotomy, when shown one color but asked to read the name of it's opposite, forces a rupture between the two. The question is: Does reason or sensation dominate our experience of art?"
It's been a busy year for Thater and there's no sign she's slowing down, with a solo show opening last week at the MCA in Chicago and more showings in the pipeline for this year. Catch Colorvision while you can though–it closes this week and it should not be missed.
- Sid Feddema