Jeff Weiss is a transplanted New Yorker who makes large-scale, Cibachrome constructions that juxtapose television-generated imagery with cultural, scientific and historical iconography. Composed in gridlike modernist geometries or presented in gothic architectural frames akin to altarpiece triptychs, the works attempt to set up a tension between the synthetic codes of the mass media and the ambiguous significance of the so-called natural and spiritual worlds.
Questioning the ideology of received information has become predictable terrain in recent years, and Weiss does little to either add to the debate or transcend the intellectual impasse that has turned post-modernism into a dogmatic dumping ground of suspect language systems. Through his use of visual puns and the contrived dualities of macro- and micro- organisms, life and death, art and religion, Weiss creates the appearance of complexity by seeming to encourage free association. On closer examination we discover that he is scoring easy points within a slick format that, while offering the illusion of an open text, is suffocatingly enclosed by Weiss' own aesthetic shortcomings.
In "Cross Fire," for example, an enlarged TV image of what appears to be a fire or explosion is bordered by a pair of vertical panels featuring twisted, contorted figures in negative. The apocalyptic connotations of the juxtaposition are obvious, and Weiss seems to realize this, for he mitigates the work's bombastic tone by resorting to ironical distancing devices such as appropriation. His heavy-handed reference to Robert Longo's "Men in the Cities" is not only blatant but downright silly.