A translation that transfers perception, a shine that only mimics the surface: reflection is the act of exercising introspection to explore fundamentals of nature, purpose and essence or the throwing back by a body of light, heat or sound. Phenomenons of both science and psychology, physical and cognitive reflections are transmissions of information that return the world to itself in a considered or slightly altered state.
New York artist Aaron Koehn’s works are explorations in experience, symbols and language. His sculptures, paintings and readymades can be seen as “packages” not only because they often refer to and resemble the packaging in which commercial objects are wrapped, but because they are succinct, sophisticated, sleek executions of thoughts. His recent artistic production arises from a poetic asking of the internet to visualize language and the realization of his research in physical objects.
For his solo exhibition at *BAF, Koehn (b. 1983, Cleveland, OH) wrapped a group of Ikea LACK tables in printed images of highly reflective car hoods found online. The LACK table, a square and inexpensive coffee table is one of the only pieces of furniture to have degraded in value and price during its life on the store shelf: the wood has slowly been replaced with cheap, compressed fibre, resulting in significantly reduced quality and a decreased consumer cost. Its affordability has made it a democratic object: at approximately $8, it is popular with and accessible to both middle class households and college students. The printed imagery of polished car surfaces that Koehn wraps the tables in reflect their surrounding environments, mirroring and defining the landscape by the car’s curves.
The works were made using UV-cured ink on a direct-to-substrate printer, a method quickly replacing industrial screen-printing for its capability to print images on three-dimensional surfaces at extremely efficient production runs. The imagery that Koehn uses is topologically specific to the internet and to the computer screen, vector files and CAD renderings. He is interested in the abstract, coded nature of a jpeg file, and making visual that which can only be seen through communication with another apparatus. Their visualization on a multidimensional surface allows the images for the first time to have a physical body.
Similarly, the works swimming pool and hot tub with dream water were made by appropriating and printing images from the web. Interested in the constructed idea of something rather than the actual thing, swimming pools and hot tubs carried weight for Koehn as cultural icons with specific connotations of financial arrival or good health and relaxation. Hot tub with dream water is the printed image of a hot tub stained with five servings of “dream water:” a sleep tea marketed as aiding in healthy dreaming. Path Illumination is a readymade work comprised of a full box of solar-powered garden LED stakes that charge during the day in a bright part of the gallery and are moved to a darker spot by an attendant to illuminate their new-found charge. Two highly buffed and polished, now unusable early generation Macbook Pros were mechanically sanded until they became shining relics, object even holier than they were in life, caricatures of their own sleekness.