Sam Lewitt

Casual Encounters

November 9, 2014 — January 4, 2015
36 Orchard Street



Casual Encounters treats the floorplan of 88 Eldridge Street as a diagram of circulation. On display are plastic backed copper sheets used in flexible electronic circuit manufacturing. These sheets are milled with coarse material executions of an algorithm that plots a path within an architectural drafting program between optimal viewpoints into the gallery’s every room. Lewitt uses this excessively rationalized navigation of the site of exhibition as a starting point.

The kind of algorithm used to chart the space—visible in an animation on the gallery’s webpage—is commonly deployed to analyze and enhance spatial logistics and motion planning in architecture, urban environments, first person shooter games, and emergency management. In the series of Weak Local Lineaments on view, this type of spatial modeling and its planning of smooth perfect paths materializes into collapsed sinews and abraded arteries. The surfaces of these works result from the indelicate milling of thin-skinned supports with a CNC router not sensitive enough to perfectly separate the layers of bonded materials into which it cuts.

The Screen Test Lineaments featured on the gallery walls consist of panels of acid etched point grids derived from LED backlighting arrays. These works result from freezing their process of manufacture at varying points of unfinish. Matrices intended to send a blast of light through attention grabbing images and text are left vulnerable to the oxidizing and corrosive effects of open air exposure, letting in some local color to their unprotected surfaces.

Installed in the gallery’s original location at 36 Orchard Street are a series of  Stored Value Field Separators, works comprised of surplus magnet platters taken from hard drives during the process of their destruction in e-waste processing facilities. For these works, stored value cards, such as loyalty and credit cards, were collected from various people involved in inviting Lewitt to participate in exhibitions (including the artist himself), and inserted into the segments of the stacks. The magnetic-media in the cards used to transmit user data is made inaccessible by the adjacent magnetic forces radiating from the hard drives, creating a feedback loop of energies based on cancelling and erasure rather than storage and transmission.