Orion Martin

Show of Hands

18 Dec - 19 Feb, 2022. Arles

Show of Hands - HIGH ART

Exhibition details:
Orion Martin
Show of Hands
Dec 18, 2021 – Feb 19, 2022

19, rue de la Madeleine
13200 Arles

Zildjian Lantern, 2021 (detail)
Gobo projector, steel, acrylic, motor, metal gears, electrical wiring
61 x 39 x 35 cm / 24 1/8 x 15 3/8 x 13 3/4 in

Car mechanics are hoarding arcane knowledge. Medicine can be an especially convoluted kind of magic.

Both require the uninitiated civilian to *believe*. Consumer electronics used to be covered in screws and plates, removable battery compartments with stickers that said “no user serviceable parts.” Today, phones don’t have screws, like children without belly buttons. Today, the visual language of consumer electronics is especially magical, improbable, without criteria, everything is pleasantly hatched from fantastical eggs. We don’t know how anything works and have become especially susceptible to magical thinking. We are a society that seeks experimental solutions without knowing how far these solutions diverge from the generally accepted. We live in a golden age of sham science and magical thinking.

Painting seems like a funny way to deal with contemporary issues around technology, but despite its relative anachronism, a painting’s base materials are cheaply and readily available. Thinking about this “fundamental accessibility” becomes patter and misdirection of the kind practiced by sleight of hand magicians. “Nothing up my sleeve” is very similar to “If I can do it you can do it,” or “My kid could do that” which is something I never think about when I look at Orion Martin’s paintings.

These paintings are obsessed over, insistently touched with tiny brushes. I have found that these paintings look very different in photographs than they do in person. These paintings deal with the visual language of functionality, of convincing consumer-viewers and presenting use-value. These paintings are declarative and presentational, like advertisements. They are full of armature and architecture, busy patterns that refer to obscure systems, an inversion of the seamless techno-egg: seams and screws and ballasts as overcompensation, the promise of complexity. These paintings depict a theatre of functionality, they are speculative and recombinant. They depict the architecture between the body and its technologies, reluctant cyborgs with a strategic interest in history. These machines are here to help and why not? I don’t understand how they work and they’re begging me to trust them, so I will.

– Sam Davis

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