Benjamin Andrew and Ian MacLean Davis discuss solo exhibitions by Ryan Hoover and Joshua Haycraft at Hamiltonian Gallery, Washington, DC, on view through May 10th.
Joshua Haycraft: “20XX Future Guaranteed”
Ian MacLean Davis: Since 2007, Joshua Haycraft’s artistic practice has focused almost exclusively on BHBITB, an installation project which serves as satire of contemporary corporate/spiritual/consumer culture. Prior to pursuing his MFA, Haycraft trained as an industrial designer, and in BHBITB he applies his acute awareness of design, materials, and language into a collection of artifacts, propaganda and interactive media, which promise an optimistic and vague future of no specific value, if only we sign on the dotted line.
Haycraft is a snake-oil salesman of the highest order, hiding behind the organizational persona of the unintelligible BHBITB (Is it a phonetic? Is it a secret acronym? It sure is a mouthful…) to condense many technological, cultural and philosophical references into a product from a perfect world, as filtered through the utopian ideals of Modernism. If that seems like a lot to tackle, it is. It’s not that complicated though, as we implicitly understand the language of BHBITB because it is conveyed through friendly branding and retro-futuristic aesthetics, which have been completely integrated into familiar media consumer culture. Ben, what do you think of all this?
Benjamin Andrew: I definitely agree that everything in the show feels familiar, which isn’t anything against Haycraft, but rather because he so perfectly echoes the visual language of science fiction and advertising. I often feel like product design and software interfaces are just pulling pages from the history of Science Fiction films, and I think BHBTIB really points out how shallow and omnipresent that aesthetic has become. The clean white surfaces and molded plastic forms in the exhibition are exciting to me because I feel like I’m walking onto the set of Star Trek or Minority Report (or an Apple store), but, like the best Sci-Fi they become a little ominous after looking closely.
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