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Contemporary art of the sparse or minimal sort asks that the viewer consider deeply the principle of atmosphere. That atmosphere is delicate—and as such difficult to manufacture—is often misunderstood. James Turrell gets this. So does William Pope L., sort of (see the ghostly sequence of rooms leading into his Small Cup (2008), currently at MOCA).
In paving the floor with gold foil as part of his exhibition Diet Sonata, now on view at Smart Objects, Adam Cruces reaches toward the atmospheric. Foil reflects light, after all, and light is a part of atmosphere, I guess. At the perimeter throughout is a mound of fine sand, a move towards framing the installation tacitly, or tepidly, as an earthwork—take your pick. Beyond this are little other than a handful of hanging pieces culled from few materials: plaster embedded with shells, resin casts and camping lanterns, suspended clumsily in tandem with zip ties.
As gold is mined, one might make the leap towards considering each suspended cast as a kind of future fossil; an ice cream sandwich encased in resin makes a particularly bewildering find for descendent archaeologists. Likewise, low-hanging discs and the mottled texture of gold foil bring to mind the time Cornelia Parker bulldozed over a brass section. But little beyond this caliber of speculation can be made of a show so half-hearted in its execution. Cruces shirks the more fascinating associations with gold—that of alchemy in particular—in favor of an insubstantial sequence of forms offering little in the way of meaning or coherence.
Diet Sonata runs from May 29–July 2, 2015 at Smart Objects (1828 W Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles 90026).