Twenty years ago, when Rich Bott and Jim Fetterley were students at the Art Institute of Chicago, they teamed up to form Animal Charm. They have been collaborating ever since, their recent pieces combining digital projections and homemade objects.
At China Art Objects Galleries, "Hot Shot Tuscan II" includes four of their goofy fusions. Each goes a long way to put some crafty tactility into the disembodied images that have become such a big part of everyday life.
Their wall-mounted works combine the flashy attractions of flat-screen TVs with the corny comforts of rec rooms, which have pretty much disappeared from the floor plans of American homes.
Each piece consists of one, two or three eccentrically shaped frames over which Bott and Fetterley have stretched sections of plush carpeting. Projected onto these 3-D forms is brightly colored imagery that pinwheels, flip-flops and shifts subtly, like a neon sunset.
The darkened gallery makes you feel as if you're inside a giant kaleidoscope. Think screen-savers designed by a hacker with attitude — and a sharp sense of humor.
Most of the projections are abstract. Paisley patterns, Day-Glo rainbows and amped up fractals revisit the trippy '60s through the eyes of someone seeing them for the first time. Six-foot pineapples occasionally scroll over the uneven surface of "Tappeto Mortale," recalling out-of-whack slot machines. In "Molto Caldo," a camera pans, in close-up, over a deluxe pizza, its sizzling toppings the perfect answer to late-night munchies.
The pace of most works is swift. But "Classico" moves slowly, its gentle gradations of soft colors calling to mind a campy version of something James Turrell might have made if he were a backyard tinkerer and not a world-renowned artist.
That funky love of DIY dabbling animates everything Animal Charm does.