In his second exhibition at ZieherSmith, Mike Womack continues to use simple materials to stimulate fantastic optical responses. He sculpts and draws on mirrors with illumination from flashlights, candles, and strobes. Referring to past television technologies, Womack raises issues of the electronic age we live in and how little most of us understand it. Two of the three hand-made works are kinetic, including Metronome, which debuted at the NADA Art Fair in Miami.

The centerpiece of the exhibition is Metronome, a mind-boggling installation that revisits the tragedy of the Hindenburg. The piece functions as a unique, large scale mechanical television that creates moving imagery using a series of spiraling mirrors and a single light source. Uniting obsolete technology with gripping footage of one of the world’s first recorded disasters, Womack reminds us of television’s origins and thus of our technology driven, media focused world. Like subsequent televised tragedies, including 9/11, the event sparked numerous conspiracy theories and suspicions. Today, this imagery maintains its potency despite the prevalence of violence from TV and internet news coverage, as well as entertainment sources.

Most people consider television to be a post WWII invention, but it was around for nearly 20 years prior. However, the antiquated pre-war mechanical devices that predated their electronic descendants were left behind along with the first half of the century. 1937 marked the advent of the mechanical television’s demise, as broadcast resolutions were increased to a rate only electronic TV’s could handle. In that same year, the largest aircraft ever built, the German-made Hindenburg departed from Frankfurt. Before touching down in Lakehurst, NJ, the Hindenburg suddenly burst into flames and crashed to the ground. There are multiple parallels that unite these two technological misfortunes, both of which peaked in central Europe in the 1930s.

In retrospect, the famous newsreel coverage of the Hindenburg crash has become a historical marker of the rise of our media-saturated Western culture. The rich grainy black and white imagery speaks as much about the power of moving images as it does the calamity that is witnessed. It is compelling film and at the same time a symbol of beautifully engineered futility.
-Mike Womack

Mike Womack was born in Houston, Texas in 1976. His 2006 ZieherSmith exhibition received notice from The New Yorker, The Village Voice, Art Papers, and The Brooklyn Rail. Recent group shows include the 5th Outdoor Sculpture Biennial, Evergreen Museum, Baltimore; Tension/Release at Caren Golden Fine Art, New York; and Hasta La Basura Se Separa, Antigua Aduana Cultural Space, Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. He lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.

Installation View: Mike Womack, High Grade Empty, ZieherSmith

Installation View: Mike Womack, High Grade Empty, ZieherSmith