The works in the Bryce Kroll exhibition Hard copy In Lubov there are some kind of copies. The paintings and sculptures are artistic “copies” of six fax machines that the artist purchased at an auction at the New York City mayor’s office for $6.44. However, the resulting works of art vary strikingly from the originals and from each other. The two series of paintings in the exhibition, for example, were made by wrapping fax machines in clear PVC, then painting over the plastic, and finally transferring the painted plastic to a canvas. One series preserves traces of the machinery’s appearance, with each monochromatic painting reminiscent of a schematic diagram and titled in the manner of fax machine ratings (as in “.76 inches per minute (Panafax UF885),” 2023 ). The images in the other series, by contrast, appear more fleshy than mechanical, with each painting (all titled “Hard Times”) depicting a cross-section of what looks like vacuum-sealed organ flesh.
Similar transfigurations occur in sculptures. To make them, Kroll built his own vacuum forming machine using handy guides, then molded plastic parts into parts of the fax machines and arranged the contoured parts into odd assemblies. In “Trace Panafax UF885 derivative” (2022), for example, translucent and neon green plastic curtains, in the shape of a ghostly figure, hang from the ceiling using a hook. The purple, trilobite fossil-like shapes that make up the “precision-placed Panafax UF885 derivative” (2021-23), on the other hand, evoke a low-to-the-ground, industrious creature. All of the sculptures suggest sci-fi beings or gadgets, but Kroll is more involved in the manufacturing process than in the world-building elaborations.
In their procedural strangeness, the artworks bear witness to the distortions inherent in copying technologies and the often invisible human labor behind such technologies. Kroll’s metaphorical prints are not just indirect reproductions of his originals, but copies that were, literally, difficult to make. It is as if his labor-intensive artistic processes exist in inverse proportion to the usefulness of obsolete machines. This emphasis explains the macabre of the Hard times Series of paintings, whose depictions of scarred, flesh-like sections serve as strange reminders of the flesh-and-blood work that human-built machines obscure.
It also accounts for Hard copyThe seductive sci-fi atmosphere. In the same side room as the Hard times The series of paintings is “ELMO TT-12 Panafax UF885 Derivative” (2022), a group of document scanners, each the spitting image of a microscope, partially submerged in a rectangular suitcase filled with a milky blue liquid , something like a children’s pool. . The installation looks like a laboratory experiment that has gone so far off script that it has abandoned any pretense of science and landed in the strange realm of art, reveling in its futility. The same as Hard copyIn other experiments, Kroll has invested a lot of work in dismantling machinery that, however old-fashioned it may seem today, once required a lot of work to create, in the continuing effort to save more and more labor.
Bryce Kroll: hard copy continues at Lubov (5 East Broadway, #402, Chinatown, Manhattan) through March 3. The exhibition was organized by the gallery.