Matthew Schreiber Crossbow

This Exhibition Has Ended

February 5, 2016
August 28, 2016
In the Picket Family Video Gallery

Matthew Schreiber’s immersive laser light installation Crossbow is named after a roller coaster in New Jersey. But that isn’t the artist’s only nod to popular culture. Reminiscent of optical devices found in novelty stores and 1970s sci-fi films, Schreiber’s environment reaches back to a not-so-distant past in which technology seemed to promise utopian visions of a brighter future.

While engaging this ambiguous area where science, religion, mysticism, New Age spirituality, and theoretical physics converge, Schreiber is also keenly aware of being part of an artistic tradition of light art that dates back to at least the beginning of the twentieth century. Artists like El Lissitzky, Naum Gabo, and László Moholy-Nagy of the constructivist and Bauhaus movements of the 1920s and ’30s experimented with light in sculptural and architectural works, while artists such as James Turrell and Robert Irwin of Southern California’s Light and Space movement of the ’60s explored it as a pure substance for investigations into perception itself. The Johnson’s own Cosmos installation by Leo Villareal is an excellent example of more recent light art that examines the concept of the spectacle and its relationship to our mediated contemporary existence. 

Also on view are three holograms by Schreiber that expand on the mystical, fun house–aspects of his work. The three objects depicted are the sort of items that would have been used to signal the presence of ghosts or spirits during séances, still practiced at such spiritualist communities as Lily Dale, about an hour outside of Buffalo. Incorporated in 1879, Lily Dale hosts over twenty-thousand visitors annually who come for workshops and private appointments with mediums. 

Through the simple presentation and manipulation of light, Schreiber’s work might just make time and place seem temporarily suspended and everyday reality left behind for a while, reminding us of a fundamental aspect of art.

Andrea Inselmann
Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art & Photography