Leo Villareal's second solo exhibition in New York, an installation titled Chasing Rainbows, was presented by Sandra Gering Gallery at its former Chelsea location.
Chasing Rainbows features an installation of 60 glowing tubes of light, arranged in groups of 20 on the gallery's three walls. Each tube is filled with thousands of red, green and blue LEDs that can be individually modulated, producing a possible palette of 16 million different colors. Villareal manipulates the colors of the tubes through his own custom software, using both pattern and rhythm to create a mesmerizing temporal abstraction.
Inspired by mathematician John Conway's Game of Life, Villareal's software utilizes its own set of rules that govern autonomous agents within a matrix. As the agents explore their terrain and encounter one another, a complex system emerges, visually manifesting a larger organism at work. At times, the resulting abstractions resemble the low-resolution graphics of early video games; while at other times, the motion suggests something more organic, like the shimmering surface of water. The layering of multiple systems manifests in hypnotic optical effects that push and pull the picture plane.