Art Scene
October, 2002

Based on the lost art of visually entering a hidden realm through a small aperture, in The Peep Show the big person becomes the small person wandering through 6-inch doors, windows, landscapes and illusions created by Doug Buis, Neil Korten, Keith Lord, and Michael McMillan. In Lord's night-lit buildings, if you stare long enough, the silent city comes alive; its sounds are heard from within; and your eye begins to unfold a story that is more in the mind than in the artists' construction. Buis adds humor to illusion, and why not? Trees, cows, and trains appear to be a few feet (inches really) off the ground in his rural "handcrafted cyberspace." Korten recreates the atmospheric experience of being, ironically, on a vast, secluded mountain; while McMillan’s The Museum of Distraction is a surreal arrangement of video and dislocated objects. Exhibition curator Carl Berg unveils the illusion by placing Korten's and Lord's work behind the gallery's glass walls, instead, as in the other pieces, of building walls to hide them. Outside in the courtyard the guts of the ingenious illusions are exposed, which does not lessen, but actually enhances, their delight. Two installations on either side of the exhibition echo the theme of illusion and its magical effects. Allen Tombello's camera obscura translates real people gyrating alongside a large, bouncy, constellation-like mobile in one area into reverse wall illusions in the darkened next room.

Rebecca Niederlander’s a crop deals solely with background. The viewer gropes through a pitch-black space to encounter a semi-illuminated landscape of snow-covered trees. Eliminating the protagonist, the artist focuses on an overlooked aspect of vision, the scene behind the action, that which our mind crops out. A closer look reveals that what you see is not always real. The silent black mountain is built from household mixing bowls (Irvine Fine Arts Center, Orange County).