Review: Filter Experiments – The work of Erek Nass


The work of Erek Nass employs continuing experimentation and exploration of filtering perception; often tricking all five of the senses with finely constructed technologically savvy pieces. His artistic output, which spans from large whole-room installations to multiple small pieces, attracts you with its unique design and clean presentation – and the patient viewer is pleasantly rewarded with an individual and personal art experience.

In a recent group show at Lumos Gallery in Columbus Ohio, Nass was able to successfully demonstrate his drive to confuse and intrigue the senses. At the center of the works was a small cone, which emitted an array of pleasant odors and agreeing sounds when the viewer ventured to bring their face close enough to the piece, though they would disappear if the viewer pulled away. This lovely sensory illusion, which utilized motion sensors and a parametric speaker mounted out of direct sight, truly grasps at what Nass’s explorations are all about: a search for personal accumulation of perspective on the world. Nass approaches these works with the idea that many various filters influence the perceptual world. From man-made filters such as video screens and camera lenses to naturally occurring ones that range from a foggy skyline to our own memory, Nass’s experiments sequester and intensify these filters to create postponed ticks in time, so that they can be contemplated on a deeper level by willing viewers. The main piece in the recent Lumos show is a perfect exercise in patience, and the reward a vigilant viewer receives. Comprised of an amalgam of a projector pointing straight down, a slanted mirror, a small tray of water and a series of hoses that pumped out water vapor, the installation projected an ever-moving, ever-changing image upon a hanging backdrop. The image was often disrupted and abstracted by the simple airflow of the gallery, creating a captivating exercise in patience to wait and see what was being projected when the vapor and loosely hanging backdrop calmed down for that split second.


This work brings to mind the work of Gary Hill, and his famed Tall Ships installation piece, which featured moving and disappearing figures that reacted to the presence of the spectator – ‘running away’ when the approaching onlooker got to close – triggering a range of unconscious emotive reactions activated by the interaction with something alien and unfamiliar. Nass is getting to that place within his own work, drawing in the spectator with an unfamiliar yet very inviting piece of artwork – and then altering their expected perception of what an experience viewing art can be.

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