Jillian Mayer’s first computer was on the bedroom floor, squeezed in a nook next to her bed. She remembers spending long hours basking in its light, her body folded over in some parody of prayer. “The computer is your shrine,” she says. “Think of the halo, Byzantine gold leaf—it’s now the glow of the screen.” But don’t expect egg tempera and mosaic. Mayer’s art is more Nickelodeon than Nicodemus. Using homemade props, Kid Pix colors, and the fonts, fades, and feel of predawn QVC infomercials, her work camps in an uncanny valley, a place just familiar enough to bring about some serious introspection as to how we should live in a world teetering above a digital abyss. And while you can find it on YouTube, or in David Castillo Gallery, her art is just as likely to be projected on the exterior of the Guggenheim, screened at Sundance, and confused with pornography on the streets of Montreal.
“It’s a heavily diluted broth the human body soaks in for leisure,” says Nicolas Lobo of muriatic acid, a common swimming pool cleaner that he will use to scar the concrete walls of the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) for “Leisure Pit,” an exhibition opening April 16. “But if it were any more concentrated, it would dissolve that human body instantly.” This is not the first time the Miami-based artist has made art using a household chemical. Over the years he has used homemade napalm, clouds of Robitussin sprayed from a fire extinguisher, bootleg perfume, and expired energy drinks with purported aphrodisiac qualities. This is a man who once made soy sauce out of his own hair.