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david ebony's top ten

Alan Rath
at Dorfman Projects

Wall Eye

Waiting III
   In this exhibition, produced in collaboration with the Haines Gallery in San Francisco, Alan Rath shows eight recent works that continue an exploration of the relationship between man and machine. The new work is more spare and sleek than previous sculptures, in which he had incorporated found objects into the high-tech work. Here, the artist -- whose work is featured in the current traveling exhibition "New Robotic Sculpture," appearing at this year's Site Santa Fe -- emphasizes the "stuff" of electronics -- black wires, metal rods and boxes, and CRT (cathode ray tube) screens showing computer-generated, moving images of body parts, usually eyes and mouths. While Rath, an MIT graduate, uses high-tech raw materials, his art is concerned with the human body and with language. Often, the works are full of visual puns and tongue-in-cheek humor.

Linguist, a wall-mounted work, features an image of a mouth with a tongue that sticks out when visitors manipulate a joystick. Waiting III, placed on the floor, consists of a CRT screen attached by a long silver tube to a simple metal clock with only a red second hand. On the screen, a green hand taps nervously as the clock's second hand goes round and round. One of the best works on view, Triple Tongue Tree, reveals a relationship to Pop art and to Warhol's portraits, specifically to his painting of multiple images of Marilyn Monroe's lips. Rath's piece is made of a series of three CRT screens mounted vertically on a tall tripod. The images, in yellow and green, show a mouth opening and closing and sticking out its tongue. The components of this piece form a disjointed, but mesmerizing personage. Rath's work hints at an integration of the human, the organic and the machine, which is provocative but not necessarily foreboding.

Alan Rath, "Digital Sculpture," May 1-June 6, 1998, at Dorfman Projects, 529 West 20th Street, New York, N.Y. 10011.