Active Sculpture Animals

Smoothly undulating mechanical forms grab you the instant you step into the gallery and won’t let go. I’ve seen a good number machines that claim to evoke organic, but the creatures in U-Ram Choe’s show at Bitforms are the most compelling.

Each piece has its own disposition: hanging from the ceiling, clinging to the walls, hovering over the floor. And each reacts to your presence: pulsing, slithering, looking at you. Fabulous lighting allows all to be seen from multiple perspectives at once — the animal and its shadow. And each is accompanied by a clever museum-styled plaque.

But, where many works that emulate the natural with the mechanical feel antiseptic and scary (can you say uncanny valley?), Choe’s work somehow finds a way to feel soft and meditative.

Perhaps it’s something do do with the finely grained motion, seen particularly in Echo Navigo, which swings itself from ropes so it snakes side-to-side, floating a foot off the floor. Just so. Or perhaps it’s to do with thoughtful lighting that takes away the sharp edges, making each piece seem all the more organic. Or maybe it’s just that the space, populated as it is with what feels like underwater life, brings back memories of the sea.

U-Ram is at Bitforms in Chelsea through January 20. For more, visit Bitforms online and see the artist’s full portfolio at

Also fabulous in Chelsea are Robert Pruitts’s butcher paper drawings, which juxtapose modern with ancient, African with African-American. In keeping with tradition, we managed to catch that on the last day, but shots of the work remain at and don’t miss this interview with the artist.

photo via jellisvga

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