Gutter Ball

Lost in Cyberspace with Shu Lea Cheang

And while you're in the gallery, note that inconspicuous camera overhead, which shoots an image of the gallery every 30 seconds that gets beamed to the website. To hear this technophile talk about it, as she did at the opening day panel discussion, you'd think it was installed for quite personal ends: "I am going back to New York," Cheang said, "but I am going to be with this installation via the Internet, because I can get the gallery view.... it's kind of [me] still wanting to be connected [with the installation], rather than surveillance." Surveillance is "very '80s," she noted obliquely. So maybe Bowling Alley is very '90s in that it's "organic" and "process-oriented"--which, stripped of artistic innuendo, means that the work still has numerous technical problems: the bowling ball falling off the lane, the Powerbook freezing up, and the ever-changing format of the website, whose non-surveilling view into the Gallery 7 is as yet unavailable (for the general public, at least).

No doubt there's talk going on as to
how Bowling Alley shows us that, well, technology is not as easy or infallible as we like
to think. Indeed, since whatever content to
be gleaned is half-baked, this project's greatest marvel seems to be that it came into being at all. I don't doubt that Cheang is a formidable handler of what curator Marlina Gonzalez-Tamrong calls "the big-boy toys" of high technology. Rather, the fact that
she gets off on their power and magic
has effectively obscured any kind of state-ment she might have been aiming for. As it is, all I can see in Bowling Alley is a crass statement about how anything, propped up by artistic privilege and info-age gizmos, can seem credible.

Bowling Alley is on display at Walker Art Center through February 4; it will be one of the topics at a panel discussion on Women and Technology on January 12. Call 375-7622 for more information.

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