Brian Eno’s “Oblique Strategies” Card Game Prompts Pace University Exhibition

In 1975, ambient rocker Brian Eno and color theorist Peter Schmidt devised a deck of more than 100 cards printed with cryptic phrases like “trust in the you of now,” “ask your body,” and “use ‘unqualified’ people.” The pair called it “Oblique Strategies” and advised artists to consult the deck when facing creative dilemmas or blocks. New editions have been printed over the years and their cult popularity appears healthy as ever. R.E.M. and David Bowie have both reported using the cards to write songs, and, most recently, they have become the basis for an upcoming exhibition at Pace University‘s Peter Fingesten Gallery, through February 22.

Curator Emmy Mikelson randomly assigned two-dozen artists, including Rachel Higgins, David Lukowski, Julie Langsam, Dominic Nurre, Ruslan Trusewych, Roger Sayre, and Anthony Titus, one card each and asked them to construct a work in response. The results came in all shapes and sizes: traditional oil painting, paper sculptures, loaves of bread stuffed with flashlights, and strobe lights mounted to a music stand.

For her card, “something very small — its center,” Brooklyn sculptor and Pace art professor Charlotte Becket built a tiny projector. Its simple construction — a rotating drum, light, and lens — spins a surprisingly innovative and elegant image, which, it turns out, is actually a panoramic view of a Pace bathroom stall.

— Rachel Corbett
(Photo, top: David Lukowski, “Do Something Boring,” 2013. Bottom: Charlotte Becket, “Something Very Small — the Center,” 2013, courtesy the artists.)