De Soto Gallery is pleased to present Solarentoptic Chiroteixagraphic, new work by Jeffrey Wells. The exhibition includes a video installation, Entoptic Projector, and a series of related photographs. Wells will be present for a reception on Saturday, November 22 from 6pm to 8pm and will lead tours of the installation on November 22 and 23 by appointment.
With Entoptic Projector, Jeffrey Wells attempts to put on display something that does not actually exist. Continuing his curiosity about the peculiarities of vision and visual processing, the installation triggers optical phenomena that manifest only as a function of the brain. This is devised as a precise re-creation of Wells’ personal experience staring at the sun and is also based on a semi-autobiographical comic strip, Solarentoptic Chiroteixagraphic, about an artist wandering through the desert lost in the horizon. Looking to several theories including phenomenalism, holographic theory, quantum mechanics, and entheogenic visions, Wells considers the likelihood that reality may be entirely dependent on those who perceive it.
In the gallery, a projector embedded in a screen casts a beam of light directly at the viewer inducing retinal afterimages. This projection, an animation that mimics the viewer’s own optical effects, reflects back onto the screen from a facing mirror. Given time, the result is a glowing bouquet of colorful, fluttering specks drifting out to the periphery, some from the video and others unique to the viewer. The experience is literally a reality test, an exercise to parse out the distinguishing features of “realness” and to determine what, if anything, makes things real at all.
Wells’ new series of six prints, Hand, Eye, Sun, was also borne out of his fascination with the sun. All of the photographs were produced with an antique box camera modified with multiple lenses that Wells found in an abandoned shack near his Joshua Tree studio. The camera captures diffractions from the sun superimposed with ghosted images of Wells’ own hand and eye. The combined image has the appearance of a Hamsa amulet, the ancient symbol of protection related to the belief that God exists in everything, and the Eye of Providence, also associated with divine omnipresence but most commonly known from the seal on the back of the US dollar bill. Wells imagines that these archetypes are deeply encoded in the human psyche, linking us all and offering evidence that our notion of the external world is merely a quality of the mind.
The disconnect between the physical universe and the sensory experience of it leads Wells toward the possibility of a “retino-mythic” plane. The artist himself regards his inner being as distinct from his outer presence, existing in two different domains. His work bridges these two contexts and reminds us that things may not be as they seem and we are not (exactly) who we think we are.
Jeffrey Wells (b. 1970) received his MFA from UCLA in 2006. His installations and performances have been exhibited in the United States and Europe in galleries and institutions including Marianne Boesky in New York, VeneKlasen/Werner in Berlin, and the Santa Monica Museum in Los Angeles. He lives and works in Joshua Tree, California and Seattle, Washington.
Gallery hours are from Thursday thru Sunday, noon to 5pm, and by appointment. For visuals and additional information please contact: Shelley De Soto at firstname.lastname@example.org or 323-253-2255.