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Ryan Hoover

Technologically Disposed

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.

Haycraft

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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