Jenifer Wofford, Unseen Forces

Opening Night – Friday, January 11, 2008

On the cusp of Downtown tucked away on 14th street and Valencia, you will find the Southern Exposure gallery.  As you step through the red door and proceed to the back of the gallery, you will find two metal detector installations set against a trans formative mural that goes from cityscape to a sprawling lush simulation of a Philippine Islands seascape (large durian boulder included), and a prominent Manila market place – ShoeMart.  The concrete floor and foreboding metal beams on the ceiling are the perfect compliment to Jenifer Wofford’s show, Unseen Forces.  The show itself touches upon the idea of surveillance and detection, which runs rampant in our modern day world.  From high school corridors to a weekend getaway, one encounters facets of security that, at first, become intrusive and over time become a fabric of normalcy and existence.

As Wofford states in her blog, Wofflings, “There’s something so simultaneously wonderful and awful about these clunky devices: they’re situated in such highly fraught but also totally mundane environments, in situations where masses of people must be processed and moved on quickly, efficiently and undramatically”.  Unseen Forces conveys this statement in an exemplary fashion.  Most, if not all, individuals on opening night passed through the pseudo detectors nonchalantly.  I, on the other hand, purposefully avoided them.  Knowing I had the choice to pass through was surprisingly liberating.  One would think there is no psychological effect of passing through something an artist has reproduced from our commonplace knowledge.  Yet it was amazing how Pavlovian it was to not hear the detector go off when I did eventually decide to pass through the makeshift security system.

Similar to Wofford’s collection of drawings and paintings, her installation and conceptual pieces certainly rouse a sense of anxiety and showcases the multi-faceted nature of the every day life we seem to negate due to everything that is mandatory and obligatory.  If it is necessary to pinpoint a primary objective for Unseen Forces, it would have to be the idea of human technologies and our relationships with our collective technological advancements and how the human no longer makes the subject but becomes the subject.

Please check out Jenifer’s site to see more of her work and read her awesome blog!

Originally Posted: January 05, 2008

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Author: Dorothy R. Santos

Dorothy R. Santos (b. 1978) is a Filipina-American writer, editor, curator, and educator whose research interests include new media and digital art, activism, artificial intelligence, and biotechnology. Born and raised in San Francisco, California, she holds Bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy and Psychology from the University of San Francisco, and received her Master’s degree in Visual and Critical Studies at the California College of the Arts. She serves as one of the editors-in-chief for Hyphen magazine. Her work appears in art21, Art Practical, Daily Serving, Rhizome, Hyperallergic, and SF MOMA's Open Space. She has lectured at the De Young museum, Stanford University, School of Visual Arts, and more. Her essay “Materiality to Machines: Manufacturing the Organic and Hypotheses for Future Imaginings,” was published in The Routledge Companion to Biology in Art and Architecture (2016). She is currently a Yerba Buena Center for the Arts fellow researching the concept of citizenship. She also serves as executive staff for the Bay Area Society for Art & Activism and board member for the SOMArts Cultural Center.

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