Cory Imig explores the air and ground with a faux-scientific aesthetic in her first solo exhibition, “Room Size” at City Ice Arts.
Imig is known for her work as an artist and curator at another Kansas City gallery, Plug Projects. At City Ice Arts, she uses photography, installation, glass, balloons and parachute cords to explore what is underfoot and overhead.
Entering the gallery, you see the first of Imig’s works, “Object with Potential,” a series of panes of glass, precariously supported by pieces of lumber, leaning against the walls. Small pieces of translucent colored tape cover the glass, casting colored shadows onto the walls and creating an interesting optical illusion of depth and surface.
Here we find Imig’s first allusion to science: the use of the term “potential.” In physics, potential energy is a form of energy that is stored within an object, waiting to be released like a compressed spring or pressurized air. In this case, the potential energy is that of gravity, of the glass panes wanting to slide off their wooden perches towards the ground.
The show’s main attraction is the installation “Slow Release.” Nylon parachute cords cut diagonally across the room from floor to ceiling, suspending 10 oversized yellow balloons far overhead. Each balloon is held and squeezed by three cords, causing the yellow spheres to bulge.
Walking around the enormous installation yields some unique optical effects. As you step to one side, all of the balloons and parallel cords line up. As you shift position, they separate. Walking underneath the installation creates an effect similar to walking on a bridge, drawing attention to the way parallel lines bend and curve at the edges of our vision.
Imig titled the installation “Slow Release” for the microscopic holes present in all balloons that cause them to slowly leak. Along with the interesting optical effects and similarities to weather balloons, the slow process of air being squeezed from the balloons gives the installation the feel of a science experiment.
In a small space beyond the installation are nine digital photographs of gravel. Each work is titled with its location, such as “1523 Oak St., 64108” and “1600 Oak St., 64102,” and all but one photo shows a location in Kansas City. The photographs are taken with the camera pointed directly at the ground, and every single piece of gravel has been digitally marked with a black dot. Similar to the process of scientists roping off a square of grass to count the bugs or plants within it, these photos have the appearance of scientific cataloging.
While Imig’s work has a visual appearance similar to objects and processes of science, you’d never mistake it for actual science. This might be an effect of its location inside the white walls of an art gallery, but if it were installed in a laboratory or radio tower, hidden away in a basement workshop or printed in a science magazine, you might think otherwise.
But it would be an exaggeration to say that “Room Size” threatens the actual distinction between science and art; instead masquerades as the scientific process, borrowing its techniques, materials and themes. Rather than a critical reaction to science, “Room Size” is an embrace of the clean, factual, realistic aesthetic of our scientific age.
“Cory Imig: Room Size” continues at City Ice Arts, 2015 Campbell St., through Saturday, May 24.. Hours are noon-5 p.m. Friday and Saturday and by appointment Sunday-Thursday. For more information, 816-820-4105 or cityicearts.com.