Justin Lee Martin’s “Urban Legend” is a multi-media sampling of video, drawing, and one fabric work piece. The show boasts a palette of greys and blacks highlighted with the silver framing of Martin’s text pieces. This palette quite accurately mirrors the Seattle environment surrounding Punch Gallery, showcasing his take on Guy Debord’s concept of Psychogeography. The text pieces presuppose a textural feel of the urban-generated sounds experienced on a daily walk, only simplified to the most juvenile of reductions. Each text piece bares the title of a place, including “Artist Home” and “Space Needle” (named for Seattle’s #1 landmark, seemingly modeled after your common hypodermic needle).
Martin keeps the viewer’s eye moving around the space between each loosely related piece. The loose relation is in no way negative, their similarities are married just enough to evoke ideas of memory and dream states. All throughout the show, the viewer is reminded of the artist’s presence through his distorted vocalizations sourced from his video projection: “The Fall”. The video piece reminds of the worst sort of directional drunk-sleep nightmare one can imagine. Street signs, doubling of the self, a slow motion conversation; It all references a different dimensional look at one singular urban life.
The show overall, in color and appearance is intriguing and clean, heavily referencing the artist’s hand. It is less a display of technical talent and more like Martin has poured his brain out on to the concrete floor and white walls of the gallery, and this is the final physical manifestation. The flag piece, “Untitled Flag”, serves as an artifact of the performative aspects of the show, although the show would have benefitted from a few more artifact-like objects to supplement the experience as a whole.
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-Contributed by Emily Gorman