It's be hard not to give today to Contact's lead exhibition at MOCCA, The Mechanical Bride, which hosts the festival's splashy public launch tonight (starting at 7). The curatorial frame, drawn from media soothsayer Marshall McLuhan's book of the same name, is remarkably tight and focused, though some of the work seems a little shoehorned in: In his book, McLuhan observed, with his typical eerie prescience, how the manipulative potential of an image-based culture was destined to become the tool of an advertising industry bent on presenting us with false pleasures as a means of selling their stuff. No kidding. 60 years later, "lifestyle marketing" is virtually the industry's only mode anymore, and as McLuhan rightly presaged, the selling of commodity culture built us, among other things, this weirdly disconnected, two-dimensional existence where idealized pictures, not real experiences, became our dominant mode.
That's a lot to chew on, but in practice, you can look at images like Dana Claxton's, above, in which she takes the co-optive language of advertising -- the image is from a series called "Mustang Suite," in a nod to Ford's appropriation of the untameable wild horse First Nations' peoples like Claxton once revered -- and turns it back on itself. The seductive deceptions of advertising, and the power relationship its co-options represent, are in turn plied by Claxton to foreground both their absurdity and indifference to reality. Until June 6.