In a group show at Marc Foxx Gallery, four young artists make funky contraptions that are simultaneously scrappy and structurally elegant. Titled "Low," the exhibition features floor-mounted sculpture fabricated from "lowly" household materials, such as coffee cans, paint buckets, plastic crates and Styrofoam.
Each piece relies on conceptual strategies that double back on themselves or otherwise confound the viewer's efforts to make sense of them. The results are both ingenious and perplexing. T. Kelly Mason's pathetic model of Grand Coolee Dam employs a milk crate, a clip-on fan and a 50-watt lightbulb. When the light and wind are aimed at a sheet of reflective Mylar, they splash soft ripples of light against a corner of the gallery wall. In its gentle refusal of macho ambition, the piece is strangely affecting; but, as Mason's intended homage to Marxist philosopher Herbert Marcuse, it's muddled and pretentious.
More visually concise are Jason Meadows' orange bench, which passes between a pair of mirrors through two narrow slots, and Robert Blanchon's transparent glass drawing bench. Each work plays with illusions of depth and perspective by using three-dimensional forms to draw with (and in) space.
Evan Holloway's vertical black boxes resemble monster stereo speakers. One emits a faint scraping noise, the other a CD recording of the Pachelbel Can~on. The music's vibrations cause the tin canisters stacked inside each box to quiver and rattle, dissolving the Can~on's lilting strains into pools of loud buzzing and static.
The meaning behind these twin pillars of sound remains something of a mystery, but Holloway leaves us with a parting gift: a subliminal message said to be incorporated into the audio track. If you are receptive to that sort of thing, Holloway's piece will become a part of you, continuing to work its magic in all sorts of unknown ways as you go about the business of everyday life.
* Marc Foxx Gallery, 6150 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, (213) 857-5571, through next Saturday. Closed Sundays and Mondays.