Curated by Asha Bukojemsky
Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us.
– Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot, 1994
In 1977, a man and a woman go for a lakeside picnic in Chicago. They bring with them the usual provisions: blanket, pillows, picnic basket, and reading material including Scientific America and The Voices of Time. Music plays, and a narrator begins to describe the scene as a mathematical lesson. This is, after all, a short film produced by Charles & Ray Eames to explain “the relative size of things in the universe”. In Powers of Ten, the lens zooms away from the picnic and deep into the galaxy, only to race back to earth and end up as a DNA particle floating in another expansive internal space. While the film served as a visual tool for mathematical and scientific learning, what it really taught us was about the relativity of self.
Unifying the distant cosmos and depths of our own bodies into one vast, imagined space, Ray & Charles Eames produced a film that was as much about phenomenological imagination as it was about math. Taking a similar approach, the exhibition Relative Space brings together six artists that each investigate the power of perception and the relativity of self, adopting a zoom in/zoom out method that analyzes the spaces of our perceived reality and the structures that determine them.
I am the space where I am. 
In LeRoy Stevens’ video Cosmos, the artist takes the soundtrack from Carl Sagan’s iconic show (Cosmos: A Personal Voyage) and plays it over muted commercials that aired during an episode of the 2014 remake (Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey). Separating the cosmic music from its designated source, Stevens reveals how this acousmatic sound gives weight and sensation to an otherwise silent space. Stripping away the commercial’s original sound, Stevens exposes the advertising systems in place, as well as our own ability to fill in what we can’t hear. The very same language used to illustrate the cosmos by Sagan is used to describe a Samsung device and a Carls Jr burger, while Red Bull promises to “gives you wings” and skittles lets you “touch the rainbow.” By contrasting the epic scale instilled by the soundtrack against vapid depictions of a life better lived, Cosmos presents a sum that is better than any of the individual parts.
In Upside Down, Inner Ear 2 Alison O’Daniel takes the silicon casts made for hearing aids from the ears of Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals who see the same audiologist as the artist, and plates them in bronze. In doing so, the artist bears physical and metaphorical weight to that which was previously concealed. Separating the inner ear from its place of origin and rendering it as a visual object, O’Daniel presents the manifestation of a certain experience of sound within a field of vision. O’Daniel, in turn, materializes sound and demonstrate the power of “hearing oneself seeing… hearing ourselves listen.”
Illuminating the negative, Mungo Thomson’s Dark Matter presents a reverse image of a nighttime sky. Printed on photo-luminescent ink, the work recalls glow-in-the-dark stickers placed in childhood bedrooms, yet in this case it is not the stars that glow but the mass of space that surrounds them. Here the stars recede, and Dark Matter illuminates an otherwise dark space with a negative version of night. Presenting a starry sky like a map to our subjective unconscious, Thomson ironically plays with both subject and object, recalling nighttime fears and the cheap tricks our parents used to make us feel safe.
In Points Prized Open, Chandler McWilliams examines the space between language and imagination. Using unlit, clear neon’s, the artist places two words – Almost Nothing – one on top of the other. Playing with language, McWilliams investigates the invisible power of words to both transform and transport our sense of the world. In remaining unlit, the neon’s spectacle is removed and reveals that which is barely there, while also calling attention to the power of light & color to sway our innermost desires.
Mimicking video projections onto a wall, Victoria Fu’s Large Circle 4 plays to our perceptive powers and the imagined spaces of digital reality. As if taking a photograph from one of her video projections, Fu presents an oval gradient color field within the corner of two walls. Like a passing light, the work is both fleeting while also immobilized. In positioning the work in-between, Fu presents this blurred image both temporally and spatially. This corner, a “symbol of solitude for the imagination” allows for the mundane extracted digital image to capture a moment unto itself, as though to communicate a sense of individuality within a stream of visual data.
In the Eames’s Powers of Ten, space is measured in seconds. With each ten seconds the square that frames the picnic produces another square, on and on until the lines of demarcation become mere drawings in space. In The Letting Go, Debra Scacco applies a similar process of repetitive amplification to chart her personal trajectory through time and space. Using metallic ink on black paper the artist draws 19 lines within seven groupings that each refer to a boundary significant to her history. Resembling computer-generated images of constellations, the drawings read like spatial maps, reducing time and space to singular lines.
While Relative Space presents a reconsideration of the Eames’s Powers of Ten, the title for this show is in no less an homage to the very space it inhabits- an elevator. A device used to transport and deliver. With exception to the occasional fleeting act of fantasy, the elevator is not a meeting place, a safe space, a designated space or a particularly pleasurable space. If an elevator is a space at all it is a relative one, where its own references and lack of designation simultaneously call to mind the corners and “outside” spaces referred to by Bachelard, as well as conjuring the cosmos and digital realities we embrace.
Asha Bukojemsky is an independent curator living in Los Angeles. Current projects include MARATHON SCREENINGS, a monthly salon-style presentation of video and conceptual film, and LA Transcendental Listenings, a series of conceptual walks throughout the LA region in collaboration with the artist David Horvitz. Recent exhibitions include Labor Day at Chicken Coop Contemporary, Portland, OR, and PARATEXTUAL at Samuel Freeman Gallery, Los Angeles.
ELEVATOR MONDAYS is an artist-run curatorial project inside a converted freight elevator founded by Don Edler. The project focuses on bringing together working artists in a social exhibition space to foster dialogue and community through exhibitions and special programing. ELEVATOR MONDAYS is open Mondays from 7PM-10PM and by appointment.
 Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space, trans Maria Jolas (New York: Penguin Books, 2014), p156
 Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space, trans Maria Jolas (New York: Penguin Books, 2014), p199
 Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space, trans Maria Jolas (New York: Penguin Books, 2014), p154
The exhibition will be on view Mondays7-10pm and by appointment through June 25th.