Loop failure

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Tom McCloskey’s one-man show in the back gallery at Nexus is a meditation on communication failure–our communication failure in tv-land. With just three pieces, the show is worth a visit.
mccloskey, tom
McCloskey’s tv screens are human alter-egos and what they have to say is less than enlightening. The screens roar at one another, just like our televisions roar at us, with no way for us to communicate back. It’s one-way self-expression that appalls.


A black fabric worm’s head and tail are identical television monitors (top image). The monitors call to one another from each end of the 15-foot body, but ultimately fail. Four tv screens sit on four pew-like chairs set in a circle, each tv image a closeup of faces and mouths that roar (image right). The roaring humans are mesmerizing and somewhat repellent. The faces show gender and race variety. They belong to all of us; they are all of us. And their chairs remind us that we do have a real-world presence, a body that comes to rest and needs support.
rath, alan
The work reminds me of Alan Rath, who’s got more mechanics and an endearing sense of humor. In contrast McCloskey’s humor is mordant, and his mechanics, relatively minimal. And his work has a low-tech edge that contrasts to Rath’s techno-wizardry and robotics (left, Rath’s “Neo-Watcher III”).

McCloskey, who lives in South Philadelphia, undercuts the techno-wizardry with homey materials and basic structures, even in his third and last piece in the show, in which two shooters face off by not facing eachother and then shoot with their screen-persona eyes wide shut (image right).

With his homey materials, McCloskey seems to be saying we’re more beast-like than we like to pretend and our lack of communication is in the private as well as the public sphere. His subject is the human condition, and he’s saying, rather desperately, you’re not listening. Listen.

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