The New Museum "2015 Triennial: Surround Audience" is a building-wide exhibition that showcases a variety of artistic practices. A piece that stood out to me was New York-based French artist Antoine Catala’s Distant Feel, which was a rather weak attempt at devising a more effective expression of the feeling of empathy, which he symbolizes using two “E”s facing each other. It is difficult to tell whether the piece is an installation or a sculpture, but Catala and The New Museum call it a “communication campaign”.
In the piece, the two “E”s are submerged under water in a fish tank and live coral are growing on them, which is the artist's attempt to literally give it life, which I find it to be an all-too-easy method for executing the concept. The piece is accompanied by the interactive website distantfeel.com, which is supposed to act as complementary material, but again the concept has been cut short by poor execution – the problem being the way the idea is presented. There is too much reading involved, and the message is too direct and obvious for the viewer to actively participate in the formulation of ideas. It is common knowledge that ad campaigns are supposed to be either direct or impressionable, – or maybe the campaign was meant to be tongue-in-cheek (in which case it fails at being one) – but this project is neither. Distant Feel is an example of a piece that is trying to be too many things at once. It could have been successful if the entire concept was contained in one installation.
Image courtesy of hyperallergic.com