Loading...

Lothar Schmitz, Lauren Bon 

Wednesday, Apr 16 2008

When Lothar Schmitz, a research physicist at UCLA, enters the studio, he doesn’t escape his day job. Rather, Schmitz’s art embraces a panoply of sciences, from microbiology to chemistry to environmental science. The Cologne-born installationist has made his mark locally with detailed topographical miniatures, rather like hypernaturalistic model-train landscapes, in which certain clumps of vegetation are enclosed in Plexiglas bubbles, as if being subjected to targeted experimentation — or, conversely, protected from atmospheric perversion. But this selection of mostly recent works ranges far wider in its media, images and realms of investigation, and more often than not engages actual physical/biochemical material — everything from tanks and fluids to video images of protozoa to salt — in the mix. Unlike so much ecological art, Schmitz’s (increasingly) elaborate displays seem, if anything, to glamorize the taming or even undermining of natural conditions. In fact, they embody a peculiar ambivalence born of dystopian revelation: Nature’s already so shot to hell, only our intervention can save it. The question, of course, is whether nature “wants” to be saved like this. In this way, Schmitz, ever the scientist, cautions against the excesses of environmentalist romanticism as much as he does against heedless exploitation of resources. To save nature, he urges, know nature — all of nature. University Art Museum, California State University Long Beach, 1250 Bellflower Blvd., Long Beach; Tues.-Sun., 12 noon-5 p.m. (Thurs. until 8 p.m.); thru April 20. (562) 985-5761.

Lothar Schmitz, Versuchsgelaende (Testing Ground) (2005)

Lauren Bon’s engagement with nature is more directly hands-on, even interventionist — she works, famously, with real flora and fauna in their natural contexts, but also confronts tree-hugging cliché with her involvement in crop farming, beekeeping, meat preparation and other time-honored (and eco-friendly) agrarian pursuits. As funky as Bon’s sculptures and installations can get — from a room-filling corn harvest to a lamb carcass drenched in a continually circulating fountain of honey — she operates on a level of metaphor Schmitz studiously avoids. Indeed, her poetics suggest the elaborate symbology and mythology of another artist from Schmitz’s part of Germany, Joseph Beuys, who would certainly have appreciated Bon’s dynamic embrace of “social sculpture.” ACE, 5514 Wilshire Blvd., L.A.; Tues.-Sat., 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; thru April 26. (323) 935-4411.

click to enlarge Lothar Schmitz, - Versuchsgelaende (Testing Ground) - (2005)
  • Lothar Schmitz, Versuchsgelaende (Testing Ground) (2005)

Related Stories

  • Dorkiest Death Threat Ever? Harvard Crimson Pulls Story After Threat from UCLA Fellow

    The storied Harvard Crimson newspaper pulled an article off its website after the author allegedly received an death threat from a UCLA fellow over the piece. The man identified as Peera Hemarajata, a UCLA Medical and Public Health Laboratory microbiology fellow, reportedly tweeted that "I swear that if I saw this...
  • Poor Losers

    In one recent year 8,000 legs, feet and toes had to be amputated, doctors say, to save the lives of diabetic Californians. But if you live in Beverly Hills or Malibu, you were far less likely to be one of these folks, even if you have diabetes. If you live...
  • UCLA Beats USC! 2

    UCLA might not outrank USC when it comes to football, but the Westwood school pulled ahead this year in the most-watched academic rankings in the United States. U.S. News & World Report's annual "Best Colleges" list of national universities, released today, puts UCLA at number 23 in a tie with...
  • On-Campus Attack 2

    It has been a rough week at UCLA. First 20 million gallons of drinking water flooded campus Tuesday, damaging Pauley Pavilion, athletic facilities and some offices. See also: UCLA Flooded by Tons of Water (PHOTOS) Now an unheard of nighttime attack has been reported on campus. A woman who attends UCLA...
  • Water Disaster 5

    The L.A. Department of Water and Power said that gusher of a "trunk line" break that caused massive flooding on the UCLA campus cost Angelenos 20 million gallons of perfectly good drinking water. See also: UCLA Flooded by Tons of Water (PHOTOS) What's perhaps more amazing than that figure is that...

Related Content

Now Trending

Los Angeles Concert Tickets