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Hart Hat Area by Traci Vogel
Metro, February 27, 2003

EIGHT ACROSS and five down, Jim Haynes' fractured photographs tile one wall of WORKS/San Jose in an installation that brings attention to the gallery's industrial confines. What follows industry? Why, decay, naturally. Haynes takes his entropic inspiration from rust. Or, as he puts it, "I rust things." Objects, photographs, microphones: each undergo a going under, and each emerge altered in ways that are poignant and disturbing and very, very beautiful. WORKS does a great thing with its space in this show, acidly titled "untitled until ..." Entering the gallery foyer, the viewer's glance is clouded by an eye-level screen made of opaque plastic sheeting and black frames. The screen doesn't impede enough to function as a wall--you could, if you wanted, walk right under it--but it effectively obscures the artwork behind it, frustrating the gaze. It's like a cataract, or an art condom.

Winding into the gallery area, three large photographs by Dianne Jones literally figure the show's motif. The first is set in San Jose at dusk. A knot of red-lit contrails twists across the sky, hovering above a sprawling industrial lot. The contrails are the most decorative thing in the landscape, partly because they're only momentary. They'll fade--as will, at a much slower rate, the factories over which they float--but on some scale they will have permanently altered their environment.

Which is exactly what Haynes' rusty stuff is all about: i.e., can environmental (meaning natural and spatial, not environmentalist) processes that are haphazard create something meaningful to us? Haynes' blown-up black-and-white photographs serve as canvases for his Rorschach rust blots. Some of the rust is in circles, like the markings left by a coffee cup on the kitchen counter, but much of it is more mysterious, organic and uncontrolled.

Titled as a series, Magnetic North, Numbers One, Two and Three share only a material causality. Whatever image lies beneath Number One has been utterly abstracted by the photo's grain and a messy grid of rust spots. In Number Two, what look like power lines run across a sky contrariwise to an arc of circular rust stains. An actual structure in Number Three recalls bridge trestles, spreading in a stained silhouette across the framed squares. Accompanying the Magnetic North trio, and filling the room as much as the physical artwork, is the eerie sound of Haynes' recordings of microphones in slow decay. The feedback is strangely celestial, like the soundtrack for 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Neither Haynes' nor Jones' work is meant to pass judgment on industry, I think, or to make any point other than that beauty might be accidental. This makes the work of the show's third artist, Mike Meyers, a little difficult to figure. The two sculptures hung from the ceiling bristle with intention. A large wood piece looks like a prefab roof truss and fights for space with a row of hanging metal balls that recall the perpetual motion metal desk toys so popular with executives in the '80s. These pieces contradict Haynes' in their very neatness. But what follows neatness?