Piercing the Curtain

Publication Date


Document Type


Exhibition/Performance Dates

December 1-18, 2021

Publication Title


Conference Location

La Becque, La Tour-de-Peilz, Switzerland; Bass & Reiner Gallery, San Francisco, CA


"Piercing the Curtain" features collaborative works produced by Bruno Aeberli and Rhonda Holberton. The works evolved over a 4 month period of remote correspondence between the two artists. The conversations began the way many do in the post-COVID environment, over Zoom and amid the Summer 2021 fires in San Francisco and the Flooding in Europe. Within these specific conditions a loci began to emerge; the material manifestations of digital signals; with special focus on phenomenology of climate change, infrastructural entanglement, and the tension between the perceptions of a seamlessly networked globalized planet, and the stark differences of the human experiences across borders of all kinds.
Several Transplants can be viewed both in San Francisco at Bass & Reiner Gallery and at La Becque, Résidence d’artistes, La Tour-de-Peilz. "Transplant 1", began as a 3D scan created by Bruno Aeberli within an infrastructural service room in the basement of the north pavilion. Rhonda Holberton received the 3D scans via digital transfer, and worked with the 3D models to create the 3D printed sculptures installed within the San Francisco Gallery.
Similarly, "Transplant 2" began as a 3D scan of a structural I-beam holding up the centerbeam of the Gallery Complex in San Francisco. Holberton passed the file along to Aeberli who used it as a visual reference to handcarve two gnawed-off versions of the architectural component.
"Transplant 3", serves as an acoustic exchange of phenomenological record; audio recordings sampled by the artists from each location are activated to reproduce vibrations that once produced the original audio signal 9,352 km away. In San Francisco, visitors experience the transmitted signal, via a transducer installed within an unassuming bench located within the Gallery. Visitors to La Becque can experience the signal intermingling with the hum of the infrastructure deep within the building's architecture.
"All of Us Already" features two digital signals traveling at human scale from each installation location. Visitors to the galleries and publicly available URLs can watch the signal travel in real time, a journey that began on October 23rd and will take 80 days to complete. In San Francisco, visitors will watch the digital signal travel east at a rate of 5 km per hour toward the exhibition in Switzerland. In La Beque, visitors watching the westward bound signal may catch a glimpse of these two signals in-passing at the mid-point on Dec 1st 2021 and completing their journey on January 8th, 2022.
The exhibition title nods to a 1995 conference, "Piercing the Curtain: Corona and the Revolution in Intelligence," about the US's first photo-reconnaissance satellite program. This panel deals with the imagery from the satellites - who has it, who will have it, its uses, etc. Both artists in this exhibition consider digital identity, networks, labor, and material manifestations of digital signals. The works circumscribe the physical realization of digital apparitions using language as technology; allowing utterance to conjure and manifest.


Art and Art History