Kevin Cooley's "Smoke & Mirrors" at Laney Contemporary

Laney Contemporary introduces Smoke & Mirrors an immersive video installation by Los Angeles based artist and MFA Photo/ Video faculty Kevin Cooley. The piece will be on view through June 9th, 2018. For more information, please click here.

A time-based multimedia installation, Smoke & Mirrors physically manifests a frequent, and recurring, political dialogue taking place on Twitter. Each time a tweet containing the term ‘smoke and mirrors’ is posted online, billowing clouds of fog immediately stream through the gallery’s darkened and mirrored environment, obscuring one’s ability to see across the room. Appearing as white projected letters, the text of these tweets float nebulously through the air onto the mist while also reflecting onto the surrounding mirrors. Lingering for a moment until dissipating into obscurity, this action repeats dozens of times an hour on average, mimicking the short-lived relevance of any singular tweet among the 350 million that are posted every day.

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The hashtag #smokeandmirrors is most often used as an expression of horror, dissatisfaction, and skepticism of the current state of American political affairs, and the work’s implicit connection to the political realm is further elevated by the room’s alleged political history. Built by the original owner as a private entertaining space, this unique mirrored room was reportedly used by Jesse Jackson’s campaign during his presidential bids.

As the tweets build up over the day, highlighting Twitter’s collective, yet largely invisible presence, the room becomes increasingly murky and mysterious. The piece provides a visualization of social media’s power to connect us, while also underlining the increasing difficulty in distinguishing truth and relevance in the online world.

In addition to Cooley’s installation, Laney Contemporary will exhibit six related photographs. These images of caves, explosion craters, and smoke columns highlight dark undertones in the current state of our environmental and political affairs.

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Also on view across the country in Portland, the PDX Art Program is presenting a selection of ten large scale photographs fromCooley’s series titled Nachtfluge (German for night flight) which depicts long exposure photography of the light trails made by commercial aircraft in the dark skies of nighttime. Cooley’s exhibition will be on view through November 4th of 2018 and is located at pre-security in the International Arrivals area of North Baggage Claim

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Kevin Cooley (b. 1975 Los Angeles) is a multi-disciplinary artist using photography, video, and installation, he creates frameworks through which to observe experimental and performative gestures to decipher our complex, evolving relationships to nature, to technology, and ultimately to each other. His photographic series Nachtfluge is currently on view at Portland International Airport, and At Light’s Edge is prominently featured in the most recent issue of Aesthetica Magazine. His work is in the permanent collections of The Guggenheim Museum, The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Museum of Fine Arts Houston, 21c Museum, The Nelson-Atkins Museum and The Museum of Photographic Arts.

Credit: Press Release Laney Contemporary; PDX Art Port of Portland