Isabel Pheifer—Staff Writer
At David Platter’s solo art exhibition, a postcard describing the meaning of his exhibit read as follows: “As our worlds are shaped and informed by a myriad of sensations and intuitions, illustrative distortions and tricks of the image maker are laid bare, undisguised and offered just as they are.”
The show, titled Super Fascia, is a culmination of a decade’s worth of the assistant professor of art’s work. At the exhibit, nine wall hangings, one wall-hanging sculpture, and five sculptural works filled the Te Paske gallery in Orange City. One of the pieces featured in the exhibition was Platter’s thesis in his final year of graduate school in 2011, originally sparking his fascination with the human mind, using art to capture how one perceives reality. After creating this piece, it became Platter’s inspiration for the rest of the exhibition. The whole body of work revolves around the idea of the self as being either unique or collective. Walking through the gallery, the viewer wrestles with the idea of whether what is known is superficial or real.
When first approaching the Korver Visual Arts Center, one is immediately greeted by a large, stainless-steel head. The piece is entitled Myself and Other. The mesmerizing and perhaps hypnotizing part of this piece is the reflective surface. The reflection distorts the surrounding world, so the viewer contrasts what they truly see of themselves in comparison to what others say should be seen.
“The way we see ourselves has so much to do with our conditioning and the way we engage with other people,” Platter said. “We know one another because we have the same sort of features and the same assumptions about the world. You are seeing the reflection, but it is warped by the surface of the other.”
In the title of the show, “Super” is a play on the word superficial; Platter wants the audience to contemplate what is real and superficial when walking through his show. “Fascia” is a medical term, as well as an architectural term, and Platter encompasses both in his definition. Fascia, in medical terms, refers to a thin casing of connective tissue, holding organs in place, related to one another. In architectural terms, it is a continuous molding that is parallel to the surface that it holds up, forming the outer surface visible to the observer.
“This title, and the whole exhibit, allows us to have a conversation about what is really, about the experiences we have,” Platter said. “Are they superficial or are they real?”
This question is meant to tug the observer. The longer one looks at each piece, the more difficult it becomes to decipher between what is seen and what the mind says one is seeing. The images act as illusions, forcing the brain to fill in the gaps of what is not actually there. Each of the nine framed pieces feature a combination of bright colors and pixelated figures, entangling the observer in a puzzle of trying to identify the different faces staring back.
The pieces Charting the Self and Chasing Countenance are two of Platter’s favorites in the exhibition. Charting the Self is a huge, hollow head that hangs upside down, in which Platter spent nearly twelve hours inside during the creation process. His wife and other helpers handed him materials in order to cast the mold and wait for it to cure before he could climb out.
“While inside, I grew a feeling of isolation and loneliness,” Platter said. “Climbing out was like emerging from that loneliness, it was really special.”
Chasing Countenance is a sculptural piece that hangs on a wall. It plays with sensory illusions and challenges the observer’s expectation of the world around them. Moving through the space, the sculpture illudes to follow the observer, even though it is not real.
“We are so fixed in our experience of this world that our sensory experiences are all we have,” Platter said. “If we dismiss the superficial, then I think we are dismissing what it means to be alive—what it means to be human.”