Aggregate Space was once a cavernous, empty warehouse without a name. In 2010, artists Conrad M. Meyers II and S.D. Willis moved in, hoping to house their ideas there. Without a clear end point in mind, they gradually began to build out the facility. They invited artists who, like them, were interested in pushing the boundaries of art and opportunity. With their help, they added a loft, a theater, utilities, office space, and a gallery. The last step was to open up their artistic endeavor to the public.
Now, three years later, they are stopping to take a breath and appreciate the work that went into constructing the space and the possibilities that remain for its use. The result is Not Each, But All, a multimedia exhibit featuring the work of Meyers, Willis, and five other artists who played pivotal roles in the building process: Ryan Hendon, Pete Hickok, Ryan Jones, Aaron Rosenstreich, and Ian Treasure. The theme among the works is not obvious or aesthetic, but rather one of a particular relationship to the gallery. Each artist designed his work specifically for the space, and to a certain extent, designed the space specifically for his work. Thus, many of the artists play off of the venue’s structural offerings in a celebration of its existence. The significance of the show has also been bound into a book that includes photos and interviews with each artist, a crucial component put together by Steffi Drewes and Jesse Walton.
The fact that each artist’s contribution stylistically stands alone allows for each piece to dominate the space that it inhabits. Willis’ installation, entitled “Two Halves Don’t Always Make a Whole,” is nearest to the entrance. It’s a kind of three-dimensional Rorschach test formed of an elaborate cats cradle of found objects (such as wire and light fixtures) hanging from the ceiling and walls. Lofted above, Meyers’ “Frame of Reference” is an engrossing 3D projection that absorbs the viewer into a pulsing tide of constellations. The viewpoint continuously zooms out to create an endless loop of perceptual shifts that disorient notions of scale. Meanwhile, on the other end of the gallery, Ian Treasure’s “Final Exit” snares the viewer in an oxymoronic entrapment: a wooden crate that is completely tiled with glowing, fire-exit signs on the inside. From within, the crate constitutes a surreal limbo, simultaneously evoking panic and peacefulness.
Each piece varies largely from the rest, but every one invites the viewer to engage with it in some way. In doing so, they collectively foster a sense of inclusivity that underlines the role of Aggregate Space as an ongoing collaborative project in which the audience plays a critical role.
Not Each, But All runs through December 21 at Aggregate Space (801 West Grand Ave., Oakland). AggregateSpace.com