Alex Mackin Dolan at David Lewis

Artist: Alex Mackin Dolan

Exhibition title: Particle Accelerator of Angels

Venue: David Lewis, New York, US

Date: November 8, 2017 – January 7, 2018

Photography: all images copyright and courtesy of the artist and David Lewis, New York

Lost times, green paradises where only adults who have become children may enter.
– Paul Virilio, The Aesthetics of Disappearance

In Scott Cawthon’s game The Desolate Hope, sentient computers, called Derelicts, were sent during an age of wealth and ambition to simulate future human habitation on an extraterrestrial world. The project was abandoned and, decades later, the Derelicts, having run for too long, became riddled with viruses and corrupted code, and began doing elaborate and bizarre things to relieve their endless solitude.

This scenario offers an introduction, or access point, to the world imagined by Alex Mackin Dolan in Particle Accelerator of Angels, his second exhibition at David Lewis.

Rather than celebrate digital culture and its utopian potential, Dolan instead assumes the disappearance of these—and all—human worlds, and imagines the abandoned remains of our civilization as if through the eyes of an expired, insane artificial intelligence.

Of course, this future is also already now our present, as Silicon Valley has already begun the process of codifying elements of life into predetermined tokens, to a kind of digital child mind, and a conspiracy of making things less complex: Conversation reduced to repeating slogans, games reduced to repetitive addictive time wasters, content reduced to iconic exchangeable platitudes to quickly and legibly signal lifestyle and position.

Inspired by such figures as Kai Krause, Paul Laffoley, and the Neo-Geo artists, Dolan mines digital culture (particularly video game culture) in order to present an assemblage of strange ruins, hybrid worlds, and self-generating games, laden with symbolic systems whose meaning has been abstracted from its normal appearance and reduced to exchangeable symbolic tokens.

Most of the works in this show resemble, sometimes vaguely, gambling cabinets, board games, or slot machines.

The games are abstracted from their normal appearance and made from wood. It is as if these are handmade prototypes. Dolan reimagines the promise of a bright future as the malignant inhuman dementia, in the future, of the sentient computers, who survived the catastrophe. This handmade, ‘archeological’ quality, further complicates the typical art-world narratives about digital art and its bright, slick, shiny, cheery look. Dolan’s work is about de-saturation, about aging, about dry matte finishes rather than glossy idiocy of shiny digital surfaces. His work proposes a paradoxical (or perhaps inverted) virtuosity of grey and brown, a dun landscape, a patina of organic decay, a slow silent gathering of dust.

It goes without saying that the apocalypse, or catastrophe, assumed by the artist is ecological in nature, and that the destruction is planetary in scope.

Alex Mackin Dolan (b. 1990, Colorado) lives and works in New York. His work has been exhibited internationally, including: Serpentine Gallery, London; Swiss Institute, New York; 89Plus curated by Simon Castets and Hans Ulrich Obrist, LUMA Westbau, Zurich; Park Avenue Armory, New York; Portland Institute of Contemporary Art, Oregon; Plymouth Rock, Zurich; David Lewis, New York; Bedstuy Love Affair, New York; Karma International, Zurich; MACO, Oaxaca, Mexico, among others.

Alex Mackin Dolan, Particle Accelerator of Angels, 2017, exhibition view, David Lewis, New York

Alex Mackin Dolan, Particle Accelerator of Angels, 2017, exhibition view, David Lewis, New York

Alex Mackin Dolan, Particle Accelerator of Angels, 2017, exhibition view, David Lewis, New York

Alex Mackin Dolan, Particle Accelerator of Angels, 2017, exhibition view, David Lewis, New York

Alex Mackin Dolan, Particle Accelerator of Angels, 2017, exhibition view, David Lewis, New York

Alex Mackin Dolan, Particle Accelerator of Angels, 2017, exhibition view, David Lewis, New York

Alex Mackin Dolan, Particle Accelerator of Angels, 2017, exhibition view, David Lewis, New York

Alex Mackin Dolan, Korut Courtyard in Bad R.N.G. TWIN Cabinet, London Fog, 2017, Wood, synthetic polymer paint, plexiglass, archival inkjet prints, 54 x 30 3/4 x 9 inches, 137.16 x 78.1 x 22.86 cm

Alex Mackin Dolan, Malenville Bootleg in Eight Panel Cabinet, Goldenrod, 2017, Wood, synthetic polymer paint, plexiglass, archival inkjet prints, 33 x 62 1/2 x 4 1/4 inches, 83.8 x 158.8 x 10.8 cm

Alex Mackin Dolan, P.A.o.A. Cabinet, Rosey Brown (Closed), 2017, Wood, synthetic polymer paint, plexiglass, archival inkjet prints, 47 1/2 x 24 x 3 inches, 120.7 x 61 x 7.6 cm

Alex Mackin Dolan, P.A.o.A. Cabinet, Rosey Brown (Closed), 2017, Wood, synthetic polymer paint, plexiglass, archival inkjet prints, 47 1/2 x 24 x 3 inches, 120.7 x 61 x 7.6 cm

Alex Mackin Dolan, Two at Opposition, Starter Set, 2017, Wood, synthetic polymer paint, plexiglass, archival inkjet prints, 99 x 51 1/2 x 48 inches, 251.5 x 130.8 x 121.9 cm

Alex Mackin Dolan, Meditating Neural Energy Center in Seated Figure Cabinet, Thistle, 2017, Wood, synthetic polymer paint, plexiglass, archival inkjet prints, 53 x 36 x 28 inches, 134.6 x 91.4 x 71.1 cm

Alex Mackin Dolan, Meditating Neural Energy Center in Seated Figure Cabinet, Thistle, 2017, Wood, synthetic polymer paint, plexiglass, archival inkjet prints, 53 x 36 x 28 inches, 134.6 x 91.4 x 71.1 cm

Alex Mackin Dolan, Meditating Neural Energy Center in Seated Figure Cabinet, Thistle, 2017, Wood, synthetic polymer paint, plexiglass, archival inkjet prints, 53 x 36 x 28 inches, 134.6 x 91.4 x 71.1 cm

Alex Mackin Dolan, The Control Panel / DJ Booth / Children’s Toy / Piloting System of Life, Black, 2017, Wood, synthetic polymer paint, plexiglass, archival inkjet prints, 38 x 62 x 42 inches, 96.5 x 157.5 x 106.7 cm

Alex Mackin Dolan, The Control Panel / DJ Booth / Children’s Toy / Piloting System of Life, Black, 2017, Wood, synthetic polymer paint, plexiglass, archival inkjet prints, 38 x 62 x 42 inches, 96.5 x 157.5 x 106.7 cm

Alex Mackin Dolan, P.A.o.A. Cabinet, Celadon Green (Open), 2017, Wood, synthetic polymer paint, plexiglass, archival inkjet prints, 48 x 24 x 15 inches, 121.9 x 61 x 38.1 cm

Alex Mackin Dolan, P.A.o.A. Cabinet, Celadon Green (Open), 2017, Wood, synthetic polymer paint, plexiglass, archival inkjet prints, 48 x 24 x 15 inches, 121.9 x 61 x 38.1 cm

Alex Mackin Dolan, Miradmoore Bootleg in Bad R.N.G. TWIN Cabinet, Deep Auburn, 2017, Wood, synthetic polymer paint, plexiglass, archival inkjet prints, 49 1/2 x 31 x 9 inches, 125.7 x 78.7 x 22.9 cm

Alex Mackin Dolan, Miradmoore Bootleg in Bad R.N.G. TWIN Cabinet, Deep Auburn, 2017, Wood, synthetic polymer paint, plexiglass, archival inkjet prints, 49 1/2 x 31 x 9 inches, 125.7 x 78.7 x 22.9 cm

Alex Mackin Dolan, Control Panel as it appears colorless and flat as in a dream, Rockey Green, 2017, Wood, epoxy, synthetic polymer paint, inkjet, 31 x 85 x 27 inches, 78.7 x 215.9 x 68.6 cm

Alex Mackin Dolan, Mirad Bootleg in Single Panel Starter Cabinet, Pale Egg, 2017, Wood, synthetic polymer paint, plexiglass, archival inkjet prints, 16 x 1514 x 5 inches, 40.6 x 3845.6 x 12.7 cm

Alex Mackin Dolan, The One With Red Orbs – Abstract Token, Red Orbs, 2017, Wood, synthetic polymer paint, inkjet, resin, 30 x 36 inches, 76.2 x 91.4 cm

Alex Mackin Dolan, The One With Purple Orbs – Abstract Token, Purple Orbs, 2017, Wood, synthetic polymer paint, inkjet, resin, 32 x 36 inches, 81.3 x 91.4 cm

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