Thomas Blair and Louis Osmosis
This is your captain speaking
December 7th, 2019 - January 11th, 2020
Opening reception December 7th, 6-9pm
Gym presents This is your captain speaking, a two-person show from Thomas Blair and Louis Osmosis. Their first collaboration, the show comprises Blair’s photography and Osmosis’ sculptures and drawings (a precise, graphite-on-paper series of balding white men in black shirts, seen from behind). The show is warped; the loudspeaker announcement suggests that malfunction is evident. Underpinning the show’s formal beauty and material skill is nihilistic doublespeak - Blair and Osmosis continually offering, and immediately reconfiguring, perceptions of their work.
In Blair’s photographic practice, images undergo rapid-fire reassessment. Whether one edit away from a Thomas Ruff Substratum or a photo you’d find on a 2008 flip phone, the work relishes this adjacency. His distortions are subtle (twisting a pixel 45 degrees) or frantic beyond recognition. The uncanniness catches up with the viewer; compositional beauty gives way to instability. A recent series of tiny, mundane images, taken by Blair, speaks to the unbelievable surfeit of internet-relegated, thumbnail-sized images, a garbage dump of anonymous pictures, only to reproduce its excess. Blair prints his snapshots on largely-empty sheets of paper, putting waste in a picture frame (while, elsewhere, the digital images clog screens, servers, etc). Blair often cites painting as critical for his practice, and digital mark-making and material consideration are evident in his work (a note: all of Blair’s photographs in this show are in Ikea frames, shown behind museum-grade glass).
If Blair considers photographic debris, Osmosis heightens the condition of sculpture as aesthetic addition - entering neutered objects into an already crowded world. A muteness pervades the work; as much as they offer, they stunt (bald white men turn away; a heavy-headed sun slouches; Pupil, carved from the wood of John Hejduk’s dismantled House of Suicide, is literally mouthless - its features singed by sunlight through a magnifying glass). Things don’t operate as they should. Rather than from the ventriloquized sun, activity derives from two walkie-talkies behind him, picking up frequencies from sources in close proximity (trucks, people, police, etc.); in Pupil, the body is relegated to a pedestal, holding up a tunneled sightline (the only unworked section of wood). The works are resolutely sensual and manually tactile - carved, amber wood, a golden base, the cherry red seam on the suit’s lapel - as though without function, they find sovereignty.
There is a certain desperation in locating signifiers. Blair and Osmosis exacerbate that sensation. The artists and viewer (captain and passenger) are in this together, looking for Yeezy sneakers in blown-up pixels, or seeing a Noguchi lamp in a hornet’s nest. Whether knowing these codes solves anything, or if the better option is just to look, is up for grabs - the lamp won’t turn on, either way.
- Quinn Schoen
Thomas Blair (b. 1996 in Washington DC) received his BFA from the Cooper Union in 2018. He lives and works in Brooklyn. His work reiterates and manipulates certain associative logics, optical expectations, and standards of quality within photography and art.
Louis Osmosis (b. 1996 in Brooklyn, NY) is a Brooklyn-based artist.
Installation images by Shark Senesac