Artist – Leslie Thornton

Menagerie Machine, 2010-2014

Winkleman Gallery
303 East 37th Street, 6P
New York, NY 10001

T: (1) 212.643.3152

Leslie Thornton’s Binocular series consists of a series of flat-screen monitors. On each screen two circular fields appear: on the left, images of animals — birds, reptiles, fish, mammals, some exotic, others familiar and commonplace — beautifully captured, filmed in the wild; on the right, the image is folded back on itself in a centripetal pattern, reminiscent of a kaleidoscope. The two circular fields are intimately connected: the movements of the animals on the left are remapped into the elegant mathematical abstraction on the right. The effect is unexpected and profound: the viewer notices minute tremors and shifts (a small heart beating, for example) in the left sphere, by catching the very same resonant motion, multiplied, recast, and folded into itself in the pattern on the right. There is no anthropomorphism here, no Disneyfied cuteness, no identification or domestication. Thornton gives us a glimpse of a world prior to language and exterior to consumption, mute, opaque, and absolutely other. Leslie Thornton’s beautiful, meditative, camerawork locates the movements of predator/prey relations in the most subtle fragments and configurations of behavior and morphology. All of her work has this intensity, an almost painfully precise focus on the fundamental minutiae of being in the world. In Thornton’s magnum opus, Peggy and Fred in Hell, for example, the tumultuous cacophony of post-apocalyptic litter surrounding her protagonists (two small children) was animate, threatening, epiphanic, and it was inescapable, because as viewers we were carried along into their world. There was just enough for us to make our way without being totally consumed (their own eventual heroic disposition saves Peggy and Fred, and rescues us). We are similarly transported by the succession of animal/animate spaces in Binocular. Nature is not subsumed or (re)produced, circumscribed or contained, so much as it is reflected, in a strange and elegant mirroring that acknowledges that the space of otherness traced in the image of the animal is filled by an abstract artifactuality, that in fact, there was nothing but an artifactuality present to begin with. This installation includes the work “Menagerie” which was commissioned by Times Square Alliance for Midnight Moments, May 2014.