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Whatever happened to last year's breakout stars?
OAK PARK, Illinois — You’re driving to a suburb that you don’t know well, and you whip out your iPhone to quickly punch an address into Google Maps. In this case, that address is 704 Highland Avenue, home of Sabina Ott and John Paulett, who run Terrain Exhibitions, a once-a-month-ish, home-turned-cozy gallery experience. Every artist who shows work here must wrap it around the concept of the artist-writer couple’s home.
Jeroen Nelemans, Higher Definition – QR Code (all photos by the writer unless otherwise noted)
Recreating such a technologically mediated experience informs Jeroen Nelemans’ site-specific installation Higher Definition, on view at Terrain Exhibitions through May 22. For this work, he takes Google Earth, the global, satellite-imagery-centric cousin of Google Maps, quite literally into the living room and front yard of his house in the suburbs of Chicago. The Google Earth-inflected experience of Ott’s home-based, weekend-afternoon-only, suburban home-turned-family-friendly artist-run gallery is three fold. It’s as if Google Street View did actually move into Ott’s living room.
First, Nelemans plays with the idea of looking at the home through Google Earth on a computer monitor by installing a large piece of Plexiglas in the front yard. Google Earth icons and navigation tools are sprinkled on pasted onto the clear material; one stands in front of it and looks through to the other side, which is just the porch of Ms. Ott’s home. This experience mirrors the actual experience of what one might experience looking at 704 Highland Avenue using Google Earth. Nelemans repackages Google Earth as a physical-only incarnation of the virtual technology. This part of the installation is in fact closely aligned with the idea of making the digital ideal an analogue reality.
For the second conceptual take on Google Earth, Nelemans installs giant QR codes around the front lawn of their residence. Download the app i-nigma, snap the QR code with your phone, and you’ll be directed to YouTube — where you can view Neleman’s spliced Google Earth video of the location. The two-minute video traces the Google Earth zoom-in/zoom-out process of descending through the atmosphere onto their shingled rooftop. Splicing these opposing moments on top of one another, Nelemans creates an effect that layers the furthest view available — the Earth from outer space, with a tiny Google pindrop for the home — with a view that captures the roofing and bushes that surround the house. As the video progresses, the views continue to rotate around each other on a loop. This same video also plays on a monitor in Ott’s living room, where all are welcome to view it without the intervention of the QR code.
Jeroen Nelemans, “Higher Definition”
Nelemans, a Chicago-based artist of Dutch decent, brings a conceptual approach to exploring the same Google Earth experience through different lenses. His process mirrors the conceptual artist Joseph Kosuth’s One and Three Chairs, which the artist notes as an inspiration for this site-specific installation. This tightly curated three-part exhibition is a pleasant, slimmed down departure from his latest solo show at The Mission, which packed in so many works that it felt like a mid-career survey of the emerging artist’s work.
Nelemans’ interest in our technologically mediated experiences of the physical world first began to sprout in his solo show at The Mission, where he presented a take on light and space influenced by Google Maps. He screengrabbed images of his hometown in the Netherlands using Google Maps, and then cut laser incisions onto lightboxes to create glowing, abstract patterns that lit up like a smattering of Google Earth-curated heavenly stars. In his site-specific installation, he brings a similar, refreshingly clear sensibility and interest in the landscape, suggesting that while our technology may not simplify our approach to the natural landscape, it at least gives us more options on how to interpret and consume it.
Higher Definition is on view, from the street, 24 hours a day at Terrain (704 Highland Avenue, Oak Park, Illinois), and can be entered at the owner’s discretion on weekend afternoons.
The star of “Beasts of the Southern Wild” charmed practically everyone at the Oscars, where she was the youngest best actress nominee ever; she went on to film a remake of “Annie” opposite Jamie Foxx and Cameron Diaz.
Carly Rae Jepsen
Jepsen, who had 2012’s song of the summer with “Call Me Maybe,” released the fifth and final single from her debut album in January 2013. She toured the U.S. in mid-2013 -- just as Daft Punk and Robin Thicke battled to succeed her as icons of the summer.
Honey Boo Boo
2012’s biggest reality star, the young pageant contestant Alana Thompson, had a quieter time this year, with a second season whose ratings were strong but whose buzz was a bit muted. America was, by now, accustomed to young Thompson, and outraged or scandalized reactions were reserved for other TLC programming, like “The Man With the 132-Pound Scrotum.”
Ocean missed out on the top Grammys for which he was nominated in early 2013; he bounced back quickly with featured appearances on albums by Kanye West, Jay Z and Beyoncé, and is at work on a new album. Things are looking up!
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With their third album in 21 months hitting No. 1 immediately upon its fall 2013 release, the boy band that broke into America in 2012 would seem to be here to stay for a while. Still, they looked a bit nervous in their reaction shots during the Video Music Awards’ ‘N Sync reunion; maybe not this year, maybe not next, but eventually, the Justin of One Direction is going to break out. For now, though, things look good!
Lana Del Rey
The famously uncomfortable “Saturday Night Live” musical guest overcame endless mockery from 2012 to land her first top-10 hit in the summer of 2013 -- a remix of a year-old song, “Summertime Sadness.” As the co-writer of “Young and Beautiful,” the love theme from “The Great Gatsby,” Del Rey is such a front-runner for the best original song Oscar (last won by Adele) that there has been a direct-mail campaign to academy voters against her. The song was also played at the most romantic event of the year: Kanye West’s stadium marriage proposal to Kim Kardashian.
Wilson, who charmed fans of 2012’s “Pitch Perfect,” had a rockier 2013, with her sitcom “Super Fun Night” struggling creatively and in the ratings. Her next planned movies are both sequels, to “Kung Fu Panda” and -- hoping lightning will strike twice -- to “Pitch Perfect.”
Another 2012 music icon, Gotye won the record of the year trophy at the 2013 Grammys for “Somebody That I Used to Know.” He released no new singles in 2013, and has told the press he has been struggling to complete new material. Good luck, Gotye!
The golden boy of the 2012 Olympics, without feats of aquatic derring-do to distract the public this year, saw his always-tenuous persona completely shift from “amiable jock” into “utter dolt” with his E! reality series. Worst of all, the series was canceled.
In 2012, the young actress -- best known for her role in the indie “Winter’s Bone” and a supporting part in the “X-Men” franchise -- had marquee roles in the first “Hunger Games” film and in David O. Russell’s comedy “Silver Linings Playbook.” In 2013, she played to her strengths: After winning an Oscar, she starred in the second “Hunger Games” movie, on whose publicity tour she managed to charm everyone in America, and had another role in a David O. Russell comedy, “American Hustle,” for which she might just win ANOTHER Oscar. By 2014, she may end up running a major studio, or serving as president.
The breakout bikini model of 2012 made a repeat appearance on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue -- and got to do high-fashion spreads in Elle, Vogue and Vanity Fair. She was cast in a Cameron Diaz comedy, too. Some types of appeal are eternal!
E. L. James
The “50 Shades” novelist now gets to help share some input into a movie adaptation set for release in 2015. She probably never needs to work again! Isn’t that great? Isn’t that … just … great?
The “Gangnam Style” phenom performed at New Year’s 2013, but will spend New Year’s 2014 flipping channels to find his pistachio ad, his goofy antics having been outdone in the past year by “The Fox” singers Ylvis. Nothing meme can stay.
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