Sheila Pinkel

Though you wouldn’t guess it, the cube in Sheila Pinkel’s multidimensional object study Manifestations of a Cube, 1974–79, is a glass dish stolen from a Japanese restaurant in the San Fernando Valley. For the show here—which one could characterize as a biography of the item—Pinkel tried capturing the form’s essence through xeroradiography, color Xeroxes, and other imaging techniques. At certain points in her investigations, the thing becomes exceptionally rich, strange, mercurial, and vivid, pulsating with a mysterious energy. The press release calls the twenty-nine-foot-long presentation of photograms, made between 1976 and 1977, “visual music.” Indeed, it has all the formal qualities of a score—perhaps one composed by Alban Berg of the Second Viennese School, simultaneously ordered and surprisingly cacophonous.

In the suite of four cyanotypes from 1976, the cube takes on a chilly, cosmic appearance as it sits on what looks like some distant, otherworldly surface. The 16-mm film short Intuition, 1977, was the first digital film made at the USC School of Engineering Image Processing Laboratory. The cube flickers in different colors, mutating into a group of rectangular bars. One of the reasons the artist called the piece Intuition was because seeing the colors metamorphose “reminded me of my own intuitive mental processes.” Without question, Pinkel’s delightful meditation on this elementary object yields endless wonder.