09 April 2015


Now open at Galeria Mexico, curated by Owl Braveheart, is a significant installation, Crawlers, comprising three works by Oberon Onmura: Crawlers itself (a new piece), Khamaseen and Slow Chaos. Set in a recessed floor area, Slow Chaos (image above) is an earlier work, but a favorite of the artist, who says that it explores a simple type of artificial intelligence "in which 41 floating squares seek to form groups according to an unseen set of rules. If left undisturbed, they happily come together in ever-changing groups, then re-form into new groups. The entire colony dies occasionally, but is reborn soon after. If an avatar disturbs them, they rush to the center in one group, eventually daring to begin their grouping behavior anew." It's quite fascinating to watch the shapes spawn, move about, change color, and react to touch — the photo hardly conveys a real sense of the experience.

Crawlers, shown in the middle two images, is equally intriguing. A series of semi-transparent rectangles (the crawlers) spawn from a height in a courtyard (the right pillar in the image below), then move in linear fashion through the air down into the gallery space, where they change direction, wrapping around Khamaseena and Slow Chaos, and finally exit, moving back up toward the place of origin (the left pillar in the image below). In this way, the slowly moving shapes define the gallery itself, bringing our eyes to focus as much on the surrounding environment as on the "art" objects, much in the same way that some large outdoor pieces by, for example, Richard Serra or Carl Andre might delineate an environmental setting. The crawlers produce something akin to a chalk trail as they move, further accentuating their path, but they'll disappear upon touch, and the line slowly fades away.

Khamaseen, says Oberon, "references a cyclonic type of wind that is common in Egypt and Sudan towards the end of March and April of each year. The moving floor panels emit clouds of dust, and if you step on one it will envelop you in a whirl of light and sound." A careful observation also shows changing textures on the panels (image below). (Be sure to have local sounds turned up for all three artworks.) Owl tells me that the exhibition doesn't have a fixed closing date, and it sounds as though it's likely to stay for at least a few additional weeks. While you're visiting, be sure to visit the seven other exhibitions on display at Galeria Mexico, and do consider a contribution toward the gallery's support.

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