Art Show: Slava Balasanov

January 26, 2012

For our series Art Show, FADER heads to the current gallery show of an artist and has them show us around. In this edition, we spoke with Slava Balasanov.

In addition to being an incredible producer with records out on Future Times, Moment Sound and—next month—Software, Slava Balasanov is a talented visual artist. His new show at Eyebeam Art+Technology Center in Chelsea is provocative and funny, incorporating digital and physical contributions from ten like-minded artists and a pop-up shop that's selling a rotating chair in the shape of an anus and gold chains with little fingers on them. The installation and store center around Gifpumper, an immersive social platform created by Balasanov for building and exploring three-dimensional "rooms" comprised of animated GIFs. In Eyebeam, a big screen projects one of those rooms, and the physical space around it is filled with objects corresponding to it: a floating loading symbol, a chrome sphere, a plant painted black. Three pieces of pizza decorated with Disney princess stickers sit half-eaten on a pedestal, leftovers from the show's opening on January 12th (Balasanov's residency at Eyebeam runs for another week, until February 4th).

Altogether, the show and its weird icons raise dizzying chicken-or-the-egg questions about digital representation and the distinction between our online and IRL selves. In Gifpumper, net art skips to the front of the semiotic line: the onscreen image of pizza actually comes before the plain-cheese delivery at the show's opening. The physical pizza represents a GIF. And what to make of the 3D rooms, which you can walk around and explore using the keyboard? You stare at the repeating image of money burning or a tiger purring for long enough, and you start to wonder how much agency actual stuff in the world has, and how much everybody and everything's just repeating little programmed patterns. Add on top of that the bizarre commercial aspect, where you can buy copies of the GIFs printed on T-shirts. It's a lot to unpack, but it's a fun place to do it.

If you're in New York but can't make the Eyebeam show—which is free, by the way—Balasanov has installed a digital sculpture over Union Square, visible using a free app for the iPhone called The Digit. And of course, The Digit is for sale, too: Balasanov wants to lease advertising on the sculpture for an undisclosed sum.

Slava plays at Glasslands next Tuesday, January 31st. Buy tickets here and stream his new track "I've Got Feelings Too," also featured on Software's recent FADER Mix, below.

Stream: Slava, "I've Got Feelings Too"

Art Show: Slava Balasanov