January 15, 2020

“Surface Tension” at Transformer Station @ Hyperallergic

CLEVELAND, Ohio — It’s something we look at constantly, and almost never see. With Surface Tension, photographer Tabitha Soren (yep, that Tabitha Soren) has populated the walls of Transformer Station with an installation that brings into sharper focus the surface quality of the omnipresent touchscreens that deliver a great deal of our daily information and interaction.

While some images in the exhibition stand alone, the majority of them cluster in flocks along the walls, climbing the staircase balcony that overlooks the main gallery. These cascades of images physicalize the multi-frame scrolling of smart devices, mirroring Soren’s attention to the whorls and smudges that form the physical trace of our virtual meanderings. Each image is a hybrid of content and surface, like an oil slick floating on the surface of the ocean. This metaphor becomes literal in the case of a large-scale image of the Arctic Ocean and glaciers, obscured, eroded, and smeared by the evidence of human intervention. The feeling of a transgressive greasy touch shattering the fourth wall of the screen permeates, particularly among some of the more explicitly sexual content; the stairwell is lined with a suggestive mélange of images of women and cats.

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