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Last week, at the Art on Paper fair in New York, web-based gallery LOOC Art presented Vietnamese artist Tomas Vu’s latest series “Dymaxion Chronofile.” The presentation featured silkscreen, acrylic, pencil, and laser-cut wood veneers, combined into explosive abstract landscapes. Mounted on wood panels, the works are horizon-less, with sweeping sprawls of black, white, and wooden objects set against swirling grey backgrounds. The viewer can make out blotted tree silhouettes and Ferris wheels among webbed shapes, fractal designs, and energetic stretches of lines and ovals, with sparse touches of accent color.
“There are moments in each piece of work that will be recognizable as an anchor to the space,” Vu explained to us at the opening last Thursday. “But then, it drifts in, and out, and in, and out, into this abstraction in space.”
The series responds to the “Dymaxion Chronofile” project by the visionary designer Buckminster Fuller, who documented his life in 15-minute intervals from 1920 to 1983, filing away bills, jotted notes, and clippings from newspapers he read during the durations. Rather than recording his particular life by the quarter-hour, Vu’s series expands from Fuller’s narrower focus, broadening to capture the collective human experience across 64 works, each titled with a date and time – such as “Dymaxion Chronofile (5.30 am, July 12, 1942)” – synthesizing a year from Fuller’s “Chronofile.” These temporal snapshots draw influence from the artist’s personal experiences alongside worldwide narratives, illustrating the clash and convergence of man and machine.
“From a pessimistic point of view, it could be deemed as, ‘Oh, things are falling apart…’ but there’s another angle,” Vu said. “There’s some beauty in here. Obviously, right? So that’s the optimistic kind of narrative.”