Eric Fleischauer: Media Murdering Her Children

Eric Fleischauer: Media Murdering Her Children

by Jeriah Hildwine

"Media. I think I have heard of her. Isn't she the one who killed her children?"
"Different woman," said Mr. Nancy. "Same deal."
- Neil Gaiman, American Gods

Eric Fleischauer is a Chicago artist who has recently exhibited his work
at ThreeWalls, Hyde Park Art Center, Noble & Superior Projects,
Pentagon, and Heaven.  He's also a part-time instructor in the Film,
Video, and New Media department at SAIC.  Fleischauer has work in the
exhibition "Grand Ideas," opening this Saturday at Courtney Blades, a
relatively new storefront space just across the street from 65 Grand. 
In this article I'm going to spotlight some of Fleischauer's work from
some of his recent exhibitions in Chicago.


Alphabetization opened at Noble and Superior Projects on May 7th, 2010.  Fleischauer's contribution to this show was a digital video projection called "Assigned + Recommended," described in the press release as "a large-scale digital animation of academic texts. Blurry, photocopied pages with underlining and marginalia are rendered even more illegible as they pulsate across the wall at a pace too swift to read, forming an overwhelming swarm of knowledge."

Beyond the college experience, "Assigned + Recommended" captures the "drinking from a firehose" feeling of trying to keep up with everything that's being written in a particular field.  That innumerable people are writing on any given topic may be nothing new, but the ease of self-publication on the Internet or through print-on-demand publishers means that now, one can easily find and access far more information on a subject than one can possibly hope to take in or digest.


Also at Noble and Superior was "You Are Looking At Art About Looking At Art," which opened on October 12th, 2010.  Fleischauer contributed two pieces to this show:  "Tape Delay," a mirror made of videotape, and "Universal Paramount," a photograph of the iconic Hollywood Hills sign manipulated so that instead of "Hollywood," the sign reads "You Tube."  Whitney Stoepel wrote an excellent article about this exhibition for F News Magazine, including the following:

Self-reflexivity finds its way into practically every piece in this show. Eric Fleischauer's "Tape Delay" consists of strips of slightly glossy videotape in a stately gold frame. The tape acts as a muddy mirror that reflects the viewer's image back to herself in an unrecognizable form. The inside flap of "The Family of Man" says the book was meant to be a "a mirror of the essential oneness of mankind throughout the world" -- but whereas Lazarus' "Untitled" introduced us to strangers, Fleischauer's "mirror" makes the viewer a stranger to herself through the increasingly obsolete material of video tape.

Fleischauer's consideration of technology and the digital age is also apparent in his "Universal Paramount." This digital print hangs on the opposite wall from Lazarus' "Untitled," and depicts the Hollywood Hills sign replaced with the words You Tube. Standing with this photo on the left and the Lazarus photo on the right, the viewer is literally between two eras, between public and private communication, and witness to the myriad ways in which people connect.


Most significant for Fleischauer's exposure must surely have been his solo exhibition at ThreeWalls, entitled "POST-CURSOR," which opened June 4th, 2010.  Stephanie Burke and I reviewed this show in our Monday Morning Quarterback column, published on June 7th:

J:  I like the books:  small, artist-made books, blank, but with some pages cut out as one would to make a "stash" book with a hidden compartment inside, although since the cut pages are non-consecutive, it isn't functional as a stash book.  The pattern of cut-vs.-uncut pages is a quote from "Art In The Age of Mechanical Reproduction," translated into binary.  It's a neat idea and they're cool to look at.  They're an edition of three, and this is another piece I'd be thinking of as a collector.  Although the other works in this show weren't as interesting to me as the stash books, all of the work in this show was really modestly priced (mid- to low-hundreds of dollars), and would be a great way for a young or beginning collector on a limited budget to start a collection.

S: Yes, the "Stashbooks," a collaborative piece, I believe, between Eric Fleischauer and Susannah Kim were the highlight of the show. I love these books, because they exemplify something I think makes a work of art truly great. When I flipped through these books, Jeriah asked me if I knew what they were about. I (having again not ready the wall test) proceded into a succinct explanation of them as totems of a bygone era of books, having had the meaniful parts removed, which now functioned as totems. I was perfectly happy with my explanation, one that made me greatly enjoy the pieces. He proceeded to tell me what the books actually were, which though not my exact read, was close, and more importantly complementary and additive to my appreciation. So yes, Fleischauer and Kim's "Stashbooks," fantastic.


"POST-CURSOR" got a lot of other press as well.  Laura Pearson, writing for Time Out Chicago, discussed the stash books as well as the video "Going Through."

In the video Going Through (2010), set to Black Sabbath's "Changes," a hand scrolls through contacts in a half-busted iPhone nestled in a bed of flowers, emphatically deleting names. It could be a somber statement, demonstrating how major life changes are tied to these technological rituals, or a lighthearted one: Even a broken cell phone deserves a nice funeral.

The hand-bound, three-volume Stashbook, made in collaboration with artist Susannah Kim, translates a Walter Benjamin quote into binary code. It's effective as a technological statement that we can hold in our hands, but other works--such as an enlarged, upside-down image of a Wikipedia page, and a keyboard with its navigational and delete keys removed--come off as filler.

Nicholas O'Brien from Bad At Sports interviewed Fleischauer about POST-CURSOR.  In the interview, Fleischauer talked about the role of nostalgia in his work, saying that while many people consider it a "dirty word," his thinks of it instead as "complicated."  This is particularly evident in a piece such as "Going Through," so dripping with sentimentality that nostalgia becomes a tangible, almost physical presence in the room.  

In the interview, Fleischauer also discussed his piece, "A Scan Of The Space Under My Mouse," a reference to Nauman's "A Cast Of The Space Under My Chair."  He talked about how this reference served as an argument for the scanned image as a form of sculpture:

That's my attempt to address the idea of changing forms.  Scanning is the new photography, the new sculpture in a way.  I guess in a way I was trying to claim scanning as sculpture in some way.  It's not an image in the same way that a photograph makes one, because it's not this light coming to a's more of a 1-to-1 physical capturing of this space...that's only a millimeter or two deep.

Eric Fleischauer's work is included in the exhibition "Grand Ideas," which opens this Saturday, May 14th, at Courtney Blades.  The exhibition runs from May 14th to June 4th, 2011.  Courtney Blades is located at 1324 W. Grand Ave.

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