The brand of formal inquiry exercised by Pernice and Plunkett rarely makes the news today. In the age of the skeuomorph, the lost meaning of signs and the human detachment from them should alarm philosophers. For artists, it is a rare opportunity.
Pernice’s accidental sculptures, assembled from plinths, crates, and podiums, forego any trace of joy or celebration. The flag poles, once bearers of pride and excess, stand naked as if to mark a period of mourning. Their Eastern European colours and forms, like the detritus on an abandoned building site, speak of an opportunity missed and self-induced amnesia.
Plunkett’s semiotic photographs continue along time’s arrow. The image archaeologist’s wheel stopped on Coke cans and sun gods just now, but many more objects deserve a place on Wikipedia’s ‘top things’ list. They’ll miss out on the click-through traffic, however, because Plunkett’s signs, like Pernice’s, revel in detachment.
There’s nothing new under the sun here, quite literally. Such ‘80s nostalgia for meaning before history’s end is a comfort blanket. It would take a demagogue to remember that even the Bechers’ water tower pictures were a call to action.