In his current exhibition at ZieherSmith, Mike Womack displays three new sculptures that continue his inquiry into old technologies by way of employing simple materials to produce optical phenomena. The main attraction of the exhibition is the work Metronome that was previously exhibited at the NADA fair in Miami last December. Similar to several of Womack’s other installations, here too he constructs a striking mechanical television that generates a moving image via mirrors and light. Driven by a thunderous motor, close to 500 rectangular mirrors spin along a dozen rods at various angles to catch light emitted from a single LED strip. The image that slowly takes form is that of the ill-fated Hindenburg Zeppelin – the rigid airship that went up in flames in 1937 at the close of a transatlantic flight. This tragic event took place in front of many spectators and reporters, and as a result was widely documented in print and radio. The sensory elements of the installation – the dimness, noise, and movement – contribute to its general air of ghostly mystery that emanates from subject and form alike. In an exercise of reverse-psychology, Womack’s representation of this outdated mode of data transmission relays the possible negative outcomes of technological advancement, yet enhances the romantic aura of innovation.
Images: Metronome, 2008; Nothing Can Be Perfectly Empty, 2009. Courtesy ZieherSmith Inc., New York.