SCUBA's Inside the Outside

Review: Scuba’s Inside the Outside

Art is how you project it. Marshall McLuhan said the road is our most significant architectural form. The twisted architectural track of Scuba’s Inside the Outside glows in a room of its own lighting, a city floating in space. Crockett Bodelson and Sandra Wang built the piece for “City Zoo”, a show at And X in Fort Worth. Fort Worth is is a vast suburb of itself slashed through by big roads, scabbed over with industrial infrastructure – truck depots, museums and plentiful cattle. Fort Worth connects to Dallas, Texas via the DFW NASCAR Track. The typical vehicle’s a downsized BIGFOOT with velour-lined Yeti cab. The better houses are Tuscan Style with poolscapes big as Tuscany. Everyone is regular but some are more regular than others.

Now the piece hangs inside an unfinished commercial shell on Baca Street in Santa Fe, NM; steel-frame, concrete floor,  a high ceiling, blacked out. The suspended track, the road and armature of the installation hangs over and opened to read infinity from your waist to over your head. You walk around under and inside but wherever you are it’s elsewhere, twisting the night away, slowly shifting color in the dark.

Model buildings (there are no other words) of translucent architectural vellum side-by-side, end to end fill the strip in an endless line. There’s scale: buildings small enough to hold in one or two hands. Generic architectural semiotics; pitched roofs, arches, pyramids, turrets, sawtooths, towers, are outnumbered by an antic parade of miniature fantastic architecture that escape practicality like the edifices in a Di Chirico.

But paradoxically, they all are architecture by dint of inhabitation by the artists’ imagination; near every surface is painted in grisaille with building features, scenes, inhabitants or landscape. Although the grey wash is the objective condition, reflected light almost completely flashes out the imagery, negates it. This work’s natural environ is the dark room, the real introspective space, where the urban skyline and paintings illuminated from within by concealed LEDs, cycle through a blue, white, magenta, yellow, green sequence transforming the moods and qualities of each image while alluding to diurnal changes of light and atmospheric conditions. There’s a Chinese scroll in this scenic procession. And a carnival with harlequin geometries and the bass drum. Though the imagery is rendered a la naif much is underlaid by melancholy, even foreboding. You glimpse arrested events, animals and objects that have been left waiting. All on the walls of buildings – so some would be inside, domestic and others spied piecemeal along the road. It also holds factories, parlors, the cat, the cat-person, the dog, the family, an aquarium, maybe a crematorium and the ol’ God O’ Diamonds. On some walls read miniature murals in which wander eentsie figures as in scenes from the movie of Breughel’s The Road To Calvary, The Mill and the Cross, where folk wobble through a beetling countryside in a world so disturbed anything can happen. And does. One imagines a musical accompaniment to this vision of the benign or eerie city; the circus tune interludes of Brian Wilson and VanDyke Parks – avatars of melancholy.

Editor’s Note: Scuba is one of five artists in Alcove 2.5 at NMMA.

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