Future Shock – Nostalgia

SITE Santa Fe – New Mexico – October 7, 2017 to June 10, 2018

Future Shock is the first show in the newly expanded SITE Santa Fe, a contemporary art space in the capitol city of New Mexico. SITE is a sprawling space and has a proclivity for exhibitions that include many artists.

screenshot of wiki on Future Shock the bookThe common thread of the work in this exhibition is the present, and the rising winds of change that might scare us in the near future. Like technology. Like the singularity.  It is titled Future Shock, from the 1970 book trying to explain a condition that people were feeling at the time. The authors called it Future Shock and generally said: in eras of too much change people have trouble coping. The book nailed the condition,  we loved the term they coined, and still refer to it 48 years later. Hindsight is always an easier task than fortune telling, so maybe Wikipedia is right and this book was actually written in 2031.

Here’s SITE’s page for Future Shock where you can get the names and works of all the artists in this exhibition.

I’m going to offer my takeaways in another form that tends to freak out many –  poetry. Please, instead of fearing it, appreciate the sparseness and read like it is a list of recommended YouTube videos.

My Takeaways:

Tom Sachs Makes Me Think of Mars

a sculpture by Tom Sachs from his series Space ProgramMars rocks made by Earthling

Fooling us with scientific presentation

Could these shapes form sentences?

Each rock meaning: ‘love’ “peace’ “envy”

All mars-toned red, could one say ‘blue’ ?

Not sure a true Martian would understand

This is art. We see beside the rocks

the Artist’s Mother’s Samsonite

Filled with instrument of scientific research

Nostalgically seeking a Godzilla film

Traveling from now back there

To science you could touch.



Animals at Motel 6 – Doug Aitken’s Migration

Mix popular culture:

Reality TV and Mutual of Omaha

Road trips and Nature shows

A beaver in a bathtub looks naked

Exposed on white and seen through

clean, municipal, drinking water.

The beaver slaps the tub

making his escape with a tail

so powerful, I am arrested

by its sexiness.



I spent most of my time in the room pictured below that was lit like a darkroom but was presented as a laboratory. Notice the lab coats hanging by the door. The room offered a series of videos and readings about technology that you might not be aware of, yet, but the artist thinks you might want to know. That these may change the way we live in the future, and maybe we should be freaked out now.  If you’ve ever gone down a wormhole searching with Google on a term like ‘technological singularity’, you will be right at home in this lab run by Lynn Hershman Leeson.

Civic Radar by Lynn Hershman Leeson

Image from the room built to show Infinity EngineWe are no longer the most advanced

thinking machines on the planet.

This moment cometh, we fear

technology. Surveillance first

makes us safer. Then what?

So easy for robots to outsmart us

while we’re eating wings

and watchin’ sports on TV.

Contemporary poetry, like visual art,  is condensed and needs a gardener. So thank you for doing the work. Likewise, a visit to SITE can be exhausting. Contemporary visual art is non-obvious, on purpose. For every artist included, we need to dive into their context and give as many brain cells as reading Future Shock. SITE should sell a 3-day pass.

Luckily, the remodel of the 20-some-year-old refurbished warehouse included an interior courtyard with top floor sundeck that worked for me like a zen garden. I discovered it on my own, came back into the exhibition to find the rest of my party zoned out in front of the animal video. They were ready to go and didn’t want to see another thing, but we threaded our way back to the sundeck. There, we lounged on the sculptures, which we assumed served as patio furniture. My fear of the future is that we won’t be allowed here, that this public institution will worry about their sculpture or our safety. I fear the nanny of our state but love that people no longer smoke in my air in public. We did lounge. It was a pleasant April day, cool and windy but perfectly calm on this enclosed but sun-exposed rooftop where we could relax and trade our takeaways. Please feel free to offer yours in the comments.

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