Simon Preston Gallery in the Lower East is currently presenting two impressive new media works by John Gerrard in his first New York solo exhibition. Oil Stick Work is a virtual sculpture that manifests itself as a projection on the main wall of the gallery. This projection depicts an aluminum corn silo which was digitized based on several photographs taken at the building’s physical site in Richfield, Kansas. The virtual sculpture exists in real time, with simulated weather patterns based on those in Kansas. Angelo Martinez, a Mexican American builder arrives to the silo at daybreak with a single oil stick crayon. He colors a black square on the exterior of the structure, working six days a week, slowly covering each facade in oily black pigment. The builder will continue this simulated job until the year 2038 when he will complete his task, leaving a black slick punctuating the pristine landscape, a powerful farewell to an age of oil.
A second virtual sculpture, Grow Finish Unit, is based on a large pig production factory in Kansas. The cycle of this work is 6-8 months, the amount of time pigs (themselves largely sustained by petroleum) spend in these facilities before a truck comes for removal and replacement. Commenting on the automated husbandry of farm animals, Gerrard’s prophetic use of time as medium in both works deepens a sense of discomfort as our own ethics of consumption are disturbingly questioned.