Discover

Discerning the Darkness: Wyatt Niehaus’s ‘Lights Out’

“In post-Fordism, there exists a permanent disproportion between ‘labor time’ and the more ample ‘production time.’” — Paolo Virno1

Lights Out, Wyatt Niehaus’s first solo show, was held last Saturday evening at Retrospective Gallery, the relatively new venture between Joel Mesler and Zach Feuer (opening in January of this year). The space was filled with temporary transplants from New York City and the surrounding area, feeling like an emptied out Soho loft, a facade broken by an enormous skylight toward the back of the gallery.

Retrospective_001

Each of the eight C-prints depicts a different car interior as if from inside dark factories with little to no human workforce. Each piece is only slightly different than the last, the marks of their particular model shown only in their dashboards, a struggle already to discern out of the darkness. At the back of the gallery, a screen directed out toward the street plays a video, “Body Assembly – White Exteriors” (2014) filmed at the Rex 2013-International Robot Exhibition in Tokyo and at the FANUC factory in Oshino, Japan, an instructional video with no audience. This video situates each of the prints in both the spaces they were constructed in contrasted with the present, white walled gallery.

Retrospective_003

Using the factory as his source material, Niehaus situates himself as the spectator within these spaces of production. However, his role is not unlike the (few) other workers in factories such as FANUC that are largely automated. The role of both Niehaus and the worker in this context is that of both a spectator2 and as an instrument of surveillance, policing the robotic arms for errors. Anyone viewing this piece becomes a worker in the factory themselves, involved in the same labor as the workforce in the factory itself, not to mention drawing attention to Niehaus’s hand (or lack thereof) in the work presented here.

Retrospective_002

However, of course, there’s a darker laborer at work here, that of the programmer designing the tasks undertaken by the machines themselves. Off of the factory floor, a separate workforce constructs the operations used by the overseen machines to build their products. Whether outsourced or part of the same company, these workers act as a third arm, writing in a decentralized, global language of code that does not necessarily require them to be anywhere near the production of these works, but are the dark horse of production. uIn this way and through creating visualized artifacts of the production line used to create these cars, Niehaus becomes one of the producers closest to the creation of these objects, and, by proxy, we sit closer to these pieces, too.

unnamed

In his work Uncreative Writing, Kenneth Goldsmith (citing Christian Bök) argues for what I’ll call here a “dark language,” a language employed not by humans but by machines to create innovative writing and one never intended to be read by a person3. Writers of our generation, Goldsmith argues, should be more concerned with creating a program read by a machine than a piece read by a human to output anything interesting. In viewing Niehaus’s works, one can’t help but wonder at the programs written for the machines in factories like FANUC that output a machine created by a different product and thus only as a derivative of human labor. What if this cipher were to move up a level? Feasibly, a program could be created over time that tracked the changes between car models and makes and project future design, thus allowing a program to absorb the labor of creating a separate group of tasks for each updated car model, much in the same way a simulation could predict changes in speech in a given area over a given time (with room for error).

From the Retrospective Gallery Instagram, July 18, 2014.

From the Retrospective Gallery Instagram, July 18, 2014.

When Goldsmith writes in the New Yorker in December of 2013 on Google Books and particularly Andrew Norman Wilson’s 2011 “ScanOps” project, he notes on the errata inherent in the system of labor Google has set up to scan books: “Amusing and titillating as these images are, it’s easy to forget that they’re the work of an army of invisible laborers—the Google hands4.” However, human intervention has been recorded in the errors present here, an almost invisible and still brightly lit workforce to contrast the absent laborer in the FANUC assembly line. At the end of her essay “Is the Museum a Factory?” Hito Steyerl asks on the post-Fordist never-ending cycle of production: “What else is desperately missing from the museum-as-factory? An exit5.” The binary between museum and factory dissolved, production has instead decentralized and dispersed, giving rise to questions of where and how objects are produced and who, to any extent, is involved in their production. In “Lights Out,” Niehaus tracks this phenomena with each print, side by side, dim objects in the gray space of this in-between, alluding to pitch-black objects without illumination.

Lights Out 2014 Interiors – Germany/Italy/UK

Until July 27th

Retrospective Gallery

727 Warren St.

Hudson, NY 12534

1 Paolo Virno, A Grammar of the Multitude (New York and Los Angles: Semiotext(e), 2004), 104-5.
2 “Is the Museum a Factory?”: “In this economy, even spectators are transformed into workers. As Jonathan Beller argues, cinema and its derivatives… are factories, in which spectators work. Now, ‘to look is to labor.’” Hito Steyerl, The Wretched of the Screen (Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2012), 65.
3 “At first glance, armies of refrigerators and dishwashers sending messages back and forth to servers might not have much bearing on literature, but when viewed through the lens of information management and uncreative writing…these machines are only steps away from being programmed for literary production.” Kenneth Goldsmith, Uncreative Writing (New York: Columbia University Press, 2011), 225.
4 Kenneth Goldsmith, “The Artful Accident of Google Books.” The New Yorker. July 20, 2014.
5 “Is the Museum a Factory?”: Hito Steyerl, The Wretched of the Screen (Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2012), 74.
Artist, Comic, Cult Leader: DISmiss Presents Casey Jane Ellison

Even if you tried to be Casey Jane Ellison, you couldn’t. She’s operating on another level, and that’s why she’s this week’s DISmiss. Casey Jane Ellison, aka Your Girl Case Case, is the only known comedian to reinvent herself into an avatar and launch her own cult, and that’s just the last few months of this It Girl’s career. Ellison has proved she was born camera-ready as star of the VFILES original hit series What… [read more »]

Not Your Average It Girl | DISmiss presents Stoya

Stoya is an adult film performer, feminist and writer. She has appeared in over 50 explicit films, writes a bi-monthly sex advice column for Refinery29 and is involved with the Adult Performer Advocacy Committee, which pushes for better education and working conditions for adult performers. 178k people eat up her sass on Twitter, and yes, she has Instagram: “It’s all pictures of cats,” she warns us on set.  With DISmiss, we celebrate the It Girl—the cool, the uncool,… [read more »]

Constant Dullaart at Carroll / Fletcher

Remembering Jennifer in Paradise: Constant Dullaart at Carroll / Fletcher, London The Dutch artist Constant Dullaart investigates the infancy of the world wide web, in particular the specific virtual semantics and consumer climates that have arisen from its birth. Currently exhibiting his first solo show in the UK at Caroll / Fletcher Gallery, Dullaart navigates through and beyond post-net nostalgia (no comic sans and glitch aesthetics here), exploring the correlation between digital mediation and traditional,… [read more »]

Aggressively Chill or Chillingly Aggressive? Fatima al Qadiri’s “Star-Spangled”

It’s the Fourth of July and you’ve had three too many phrosties. Slip into Fatima al Qadiri’s sinister rendition of America’s National anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner”: “‘Star-Spangled’ is dedicated to American national nightmares,” the Kuwaiti artist explains. “On one hand, dark dreams of suburban serial killers and mangled hitch-hike heads. On the other, a false hope of national greatness cooked by covert agendas.” Aggressively chill or chillingly aggressive? You decide. HBD America!

Decoding Rachel Lord’s ‘Documental’

Documental, the cleverly titled, debut solo show of Los Angeles-based artist Rachel Lord, features four large, colorful paintings that take on and manipulate the historical form of the document. Lord has made a work of the entire gallery, painting each wall from floor to ceiling in complimentary colors to create a vivid environment that feels a bit like a barn crossed with a church crossed with a children’s after school program.  The ongoing series of… [read more »]

buy it. live it. luv it: ebaE

After nine months of loungecore-ing in her elastic maxi dress, Net-A-Porter and her ex-husband eBay.com have finally given birth—and it’s a bae! Welcome to the world of ebaE, poster child for generation DGAF and global e-commerce platform for all your lifestyle needs. Start trying to make fetch happen in Issue 1 by copping Regina George x Abercrombie polos, hand-painted Louboutins and emoji-embroidered baseball caps. Shop the full look at ebaE.cheap and remember: buy it.live it.luv it. Life Hackers… [read more »]

Shut the F*ck Up! What To Do If You’re Stopped By Police.

This post provides tips for interacting with police and understanding your rights. KNOW YOUR RIGHTS – You have the right to remain silent. If you wish to exercise that right, say so out loud. – You have the right to refuse to consent to a search of yourself, your car or your home. – If you are not under arrest, you have the right to calmly leave. – You have the right to a lawyer… [read more »]

Eckhaus Latta & Beyond: In Discussion with Garmento Zine

In the third installment of “Beyond the Garment District: Perspectives on Craft and Technique in New York-Made Fashion” Garmento editor Jeremy Lewis joined contemporary fashion designers Mike Eckhaus and Zoe Latta in talking the clothes, vision and “accidental sexiness” that makes up the innovative universe of Eckhaus Latta. Below are excerpts from last night’s entertaining conversation.  Garmento‘s next talk, once again held at the Museum of Art and Design, will feature fashion designer Andre Walker, cover story of… [read more »]

PREMIERE | Babe Rainbow – “Dub Music”

Babe Rainbow unleashes the awesome power of Fiverr on the video for a brand new track titled “Dub Music” from his forthcoming album Falling Apart. We know there are alternatives in the outsourcing-random-shit-for-cheap market, but I’m sure everyone can agree that this time Fiverr has really paid off in the turning-ambient-music-into-classical-violin-pieces-performed-for-webcam department. However, in the promising-people-content-for-cheap department, DIS really has it covered – the track is available to download exclusively on DIS Magazine! Watch the video below with accompanying… [read more »]