The five sculptures that comprise Tyler Kline’s solo exhibition, Celestial Subterrane, don’t exactly look like they belong at home. Bound with humble string and ornamented with tin foil, they slouch like the worn contents of a beloved road show derailed into the crisp space of a white-cube gallery. It’s a great effect. The arboreal “Tin Can Folklore” stretches its branches out from the ceiling, a wooden geode at its center harboring a complicated nest of colorfully painted construction batting. Tin cans suspended from its branches set the tone for the rest of the show: They evoke a cooky desire to communicate. With its sights set alternately low and high, the show careens glibly between the mundane and the marvelous.
Kline mines the street for anything that catches his eye. Some sculptures are assembled from modified traffic cones or bursts of spray painted color. Many suggest the spindly minarets of oil rigs—a possible homage to Kline’s Southern roots or to the junky machinery of bygone eras. The soft whirring of an electric motor makes another reference to the technologically dated. Casting a blurry shadow on the wall beside it, Kline’s “Starcave Transmission” pulses only the faintest light beneath a makeshift merry-go-round, sending an indecipherable but earnest message to whomever might be watching. Lights activated by motion sensors click on and off depending on the movement of the viewer. Their syncopated rhythm could offer another message scrambled in the secret coda of light signals: Each sculpture might broadcast a different message, but multi-colored extension cables bind them all together. These cables cocoon around the circumference of the installation, their gentle swoops echoed in spray painted arabesques on the walls.
Through April 21. Rebekah Templeton Contemporary Art, 173 W. Girard Ave. 267.519.3884. rebekahtempleton.com
Linda Yun’s Reflect ... Will Put a Spell on You
Upon drawing back the curtain, overcoming your hesitation and stepping over the threshold of Linda Yun’s installation, Reflect …, you’re rewarded with nothing but total darkness—at first. Gradually, though, a glimmer of something or other appears on the horizon of the darkened gallery. And it moves.
Inspired by the reflection of light on bodies of water, Yun has crafted a remarkable simulation by spreading crumpled Mylar party banners over a stretched screen. The breeze from fans overhead ripples the translucent plastic so that it shivers like eddies on the surface of a lake. “I am constantly under the spell of this process of reflection,” says Yun, who was moved to recreate the effect of light reflected on water for the allure of its double meaning. Associating moments of personal introspection with the contemplation of reflective bodies of water might easily devolve into pseudo-spiritual kitsch. But Yun’s offering is infinitely rigorous. By darkening her installation to such an extent that viewers must pause and adjust to their surroundings, Yun forces us to slow down and truly look. And it would be hard not to. While the apparition she conjures fades from a dim glint to an intense sparkle, it never reveals its precise ingredients.
Contemplating their mysterious origins could keep viewers transfixed for quite some time. Yun hopes we will use this time to reflect on our own thoughts. “It’s about triggering memories,” she says. Whether or not the piece works this way for everyone is anyone’s guess. But I know that I’ll remember Yun’s scintillating Mylar as one of the most resplendent and rewarding pieces of art I’ve seen this spring.
Through April 29. Vox Populi Gallery, 319 N. 11th St. 215.238.1236. voxpopuligallery.org
Remainder, a group show at the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center. April 19-June 10. Artist reception: Thurs., May 10, 7-9pm. 1400 N. American St. 215.232.5678. philaphotoarts.org