The second solo exhibition of Christie Frields at CRG will present new work that offers a technicultural perspective. Among other less homogenous forms, is an emblematic focus on the barcode as having both a significance in its symbolism of daily commerce and as an abstracted visual form with echoes of a modern-formalist origin, but with a purpose that has resulted in a far more universal presence in our culture. In one instance, Frields has encoded music from various songs into barcoded scrolls of black and white stripes that are displayed on the gallery floor. Also included in the exhibition will be a wooden bench with the carved nscription “make love”, but in a seemingly incomprehensible form once used by computer hackers. Frields has an awareness and understanding of how barcodes function technically, but also makes reference to how they have taken on other meanings through numerical symbolism in the case of such author’s as Stewart Relfe1 who claims that hidden within every barcode is the number 666, or “mark of the beast”2. The claim has turned out to be a technical misunderstanding of how the coding system works, though, as Frields points out, the mere gesture of such interpretation seems symptomatic of how the monetary symbol has affected our society.
In the artist’s own words: The nearly universal reach of such a code commemorates the vast quantity of product and money being exchanged around the world every day, every second. To me, they represent a phenomenon unlike any other, the phenomena of capitalism. Every day I purchase, but rarely think of it as evil. As capitalism reaches ever more, searching for resources, human and organic, it brings to bear an appetite of proportions. Participation in monetary economy is manifest in a symbolic language whose geographic distribution designates territory, but not a place. Money is manifest in a symbol, the barcode, which tracks the flow of production of an economy of speculation. Its value is arbitrary, it never rests, and it has no home. Always in a state of flux, its momentum floods and droughts amongst states of excess and deficiency, lack and accumulation, pain and pleasure, desire and power. Barcodes are ubiquitous, proliferating, modern inventions that are both dumb and profound. Dumb in that they are relatively low-tech, but profound in their capacity for advanced invention, ever smaller, ever wider applications. I think their gestalt is almost inconceivable, in the old sublime sense. By this, abstraction makes sense when trying to make sense. On the other hand, representation is a way of defining one’s relationship to the material, to the idea, and I think examining its mutability. – Christie Frields