Elements of Art

Unsatisfied with Old Scientific Answers, Kevin Jones Asks New Questions

The New Pollution at Rudolph Blume ArtScan Gallery interrogates the assumptions and blindspots of scientific orthodoxy.

By Elizabeth Myong March 6, 2018

Kevin Jones wants you to question science with his latest exhibit, The New Pollution, at Montrose's Rudolph Blume ArtScan Gallery. Science is largely viewed as fact, the ultimate authority, but Jones questions blind acceptance of conclusions and hypotheses that fail to explain the biggest mysteries of our natural world. He quotes Richard Feynman, one of the theoretical physicists who developed the atomic bomb: “If you thought that science was certain—well, that is just an error on your part.”  

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Rubbing the Bits Off, Kevin Jones, 2015.

Jones explores the systems we accept with The_New_Classification, a piece in which white boxes resembling the elements of the periodic table are superimposed on a black-and-white background of constellations. Each atomic number is replaced with an alphabetical letter, and details like the atomic name and atomic weight are exchanged for random icons, including an oil canister, cow, grass seed, dark grey clouds, and a gorilla's head. Essentially, Jones replaces the universe's essential ingredients with random details to demonstrate the arbitrary classification of the elements. He points to the uncertainty surrounding the periodic table, which was only developed by Mendeleev in 1869. What would a different periodic table look like? How would it change our understanding of science and the world?

Aestheticism and meaning are coupled in Jones’ pieces, like うどん (udon) Centrifuge. In a glass box, there is a glistening, preserved bowl of udon noodles with chopsticks poised mid-air. The bowl slowly rotates so that viewers can observe the gleaming strands of noodles, which appear both strangely familiar and foreign, from every possible angle. While the piece draws viewers in with its visual appeal, there are more profound implications to it than a sudden bout of hunger. Jones suggests the rapid commercialization of food, a consequence of technological development that's allowed us to separate food into its constituent parts, as if in a centrifuge, and reassemble them as we wish. We can now preserve food, making it easier for us to admire it on display and covet it as something more than nutrition. This piece reminds viewers that food science fails to explain the new cultural phenomena surrounding food—the commercialization that has made it possible for videos of grilled cheese sandwiches to go viral.

The weird abounds in the rest of Jones’ exhibit, with a tin foil samurai helmet and a video of a melting sandwich. But the oddities that Jones creates are indicative of the natural world that we live in, full of endless wonders and possibilities that have yet to be explored by science. Rather than merely criticizing science, Jones offers a view of the world that embraces questions instead of answers. 

Thru March 31. Rudolph Blume Fine Art Artscan Gallery, 1836 Richmond Ave. 713-807-1836. More info at rudophblume.com.

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