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Christopher Taggart
at Baer Ridgeway Gallery, San Francisco, California
Recommendation by Dewitt Cheng

Continuing through March 5, 2011

Nature and culture mix it up again in the mock-scientific work of Berkeley\'s Christopher Taggart, who is showing for the first time in San Francisco. The LA/NY buzz about his \"sculptures, drawings, photo-constructions, machines, and videos [inspired by] ... natural growth systems, comedy, mass material culture, self-portraiture, the mind, and food,\" to quote the gallery\'s press release, is justified. As The New York Times\' Benjamin Genocchio noted, Taggart is interested in the distortions that result from translations of one data system into another. In his art this takes the form of, for example, his mapping of a toy squirrel, then photographing the triangular segments, and finally assembling the toy from six thousand  5 x 7\" photos at gigantic scale. The triangular facets into which the squirrel has been transcribed suggest cartographic projections, wire-frame computer modeling, and chisel cuts. (Katsushige Nakahashi used the same idea for his reconstruction of a Japanese one-man Kaoten submarine at Camerawork in 2008.)
 Taggart performs similar operations with a football in \"Pigberry (for Sizemore).\" Here the reconstitution is a liver-shaped polygon inflated by a rotary-driven piston pump and plastic tube. In \"Ta Ta\" he ends up with an elephantine nautilus shell hanging on the wall like a trophy and labeled like a museum specimen. A series of ink drawings of himself \"as a ghost\" derived from web photos of other Chris Taggarts that have been scanned for light/dark values get reconfigured into circles of various radii - looking somewhat like earthquake plotting maps with their Richter/Mercalli radiating concentric \"events.\" Other gems include photomosaics combining different views of the same subject; a radar screen-like panel covered with irregularly shaped mirror pieces set on a randomly rotating head with a video camera that broadcasts the fragmented images to a pair of TV monitor \"eyes\" across the room (\"Portrait of My Wife\"); a gear-and-cam operated circle-drafting machine that rolls its pen point through an orange inkwell lake (\"The Wacky Worm Draws a Mandala\"). The gloriously absurd pièce de résistance, \"The Biggest Chickenemone,\" is a huge, white tree or sea anemone with sinister, clawed branches and roots (reminiscent of Pavel Tchelitchew\'s surrealist painting \"Hide and Seek\") composed of scores of different-sized chicken feet of the kind that grace soups in echt-Chinese restaurants.

Baer Ridgeway Gallery

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