Continuing through March 26, 2015
In their collaborative exhibition “Dark Fiber,” Marissa Lee Benedict and David Rueter take as their subject matter the ubiquitous, plastic-coated fiber optic cables that transmit light and high-speed data across great distances. The Chicago-based artists explain that the exhibition’s title refers to the dormant cables that run through buildings and landscapes, installed in anticipation of future use. The potential inherent in these dark fibers is actual as well as artistic, and Benedict and Rueter deftly turn this banal-looking material into the protagonist of a dynamic video and installation.
The single-channel video of “Dark Fiber” opens with Benedict emerging from the ocean, towing a black cable behind her. Together, Benedict and Rueter unspool, drag, weave and bury the cable across beaches, through valleys, mountains and deserts. The landscapes slowly get flatter and icier, and the ports and factories of Chicago’s outlying areas appear. The artists thread the cables between the city’s buildings, and into the walls and ceilings of the host gallery. As the video depicts the artists finally clipping the cable into a breaker box, we recognize it as the one that greets us as we enter the space in which the video is exhibited. Indeed, this fiber optic cable literally runs out of the room, across the gallery ceiling and down into the building's basement studios. In “Dark Fiber,” the cable is transformed from a kind of fictional character to a physical, actual one. However, by the culmination of the experience, the material is symbolic and poetic, as we imagine this thin cord drawing all across faraway locales: an unbroken line uniting everything it touches.