September 23, 2005–January 8, 2006

Deborah Aschheim

Neural Architecture

At the time of the exhibition, California artist Deborah Aschheim’s installation was the latest in a series that she described as “nervous systems for buildings.” Entitled Neural Architecture, these installations explored the intersection of surveillance electronics, neurobiology, and architecture.

Aschheim conceived of buildings as metaphors for complex biological organisms, with skin and a skeletal framework, and mechanical systems for respiration and circulation. Neural Architecture imagined the subtle mutation of surveillance technology; in her installations, the gallery space appeared to have grown its own sensory capabilities out of equipment that was installed to protect the building’s occupants.

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Clear vinyl tubing, incandescent light, and “nerve cell” television monitors were joined to home security detectors so that visitors could witness themselves and others being observed, allowing a level of interactivity unusual in museum spaces.

In this work, Aschheim played on the Frist Art Museum’s origins as a post office and the Art Deco motifs that referred to networks of science and transportation.

Gordon Contemporary Artists Project Gallery  

Deborah Aschheim, Panopticon (neural architecture no. 4), 2004; Installation view from the Otis College of Art + Design, Los Angeles; Courtesy of the artist

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