Paradox in Language: What I look at is never what I wish to see

  • Benjamin Verhoeven, Somebody was trying to kill somebody else, 2014
    Benjamin Verhoeven, Somebody was trying to kill somebody else, 2014, Stop-motion video from scanned images, 6:25 min., courtesy of the artist

The University Art Gallery is pleased to present Paradox in Language: What I look at is never what I wish to see, a group exhibition featuring the work of Charles Gaines, Benjamin Verhoeven and Erika Vogt. This exhibition investigates the influences of various strains of conceptual thought that began to take shape in 1966 when the writings of Jacques Lacan and Roland Barthes became increasingly important to the study of linguistic systems. It was also the year Michelangelo Antononio’s film Blow-Up was released, which actively displayed the semiotic interpretation of an image. The three artists form a constellation of varying practices that consider the aesthetic strategies of both Conceptualism and Structuralism. In viewing these works together, representation and non-representation are held in tension. Through these practices we witness the challenges that lie in bringing this paradox into visual form.


In Charles Gaines' (b.1944, United States) String Theory and Randomized Text series, he invents a set of rules for randomizing appropriated texts which he then draws out onto paper. The text retains grammatical integrity, but as a result of the randomizing process, it becomes incoherent. Through this undoing of language, the meaning of the original text is reconstructed allowing a space for the viewer’s interpretation to enter. This relationship between the text as image and image as text poses the question: When language is present, what is absent? Benjamin Verhoeven (b.1990, Belgium) appropriates scenes from films such as Antonioni’s Blow-Up in his series Scanning Cinema. These films are re-interpreted by scanning them in real time, creating a distorted echo of the original. Using these films as a material, Verhoeven considers the digital image, the filmic process, time and space. Influenced by early experimental and Structuralist films, Erika Vogt (b. 1973, United States) creates installations that include video, drawings, and sculptures. The video Geometric Persecution follows the wanderings of a traveler seemingly unbound by the constraints of time and space. Nonlinear logic and abstract concepts are characteristic of Vogt’s practice which is grounded in both experience and process. The objects she creates are treated equal to words, forming a visual conversation.

Charles Gaines
Benjamin Verhoeven
Erika Vogt
Allyson Unzicker
University Art Gallery
Exhibition Dates: 
Jan 10, 2015 to Feb 07, 2015
Saturday, January 10, 2015 - 2:00pm to 5:00pm
Visiting Artist Lecture by Erika Vogt

January 26th, 12:00PM
Contemporary Arts Center building, Colloquium Room 3201

Free and open to the public. This event is a part of the UCI Department of Art Lecture Series.

"Paradox in Language: What I look at is never what I wish to see,"ed. Allyson Unzicker, University Art Galleries, UC Irvine © 2015