Phillip Birch: Subspace Envoy

Opening Friday, November 8th from 6-8pm

Nov 08—Dec 21, 2019

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"Subspace Envoy" (detail), 2019. Photography by Clare Gatto
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"Subspace Envoy" (detail), 2019. Photography by Clare Gatto
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"Subspace Envoy" (detail), 2019. Photography by Clare Gatto
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"Subspace Envoy" (detail), 2019. Photography by Clare Gatto
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"Subspace Envoy" (detail), 2019. Photography courtesy of Clare Gatto
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"Subspace Envoy" (detail), 2019. Photography by Clare Gatto
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"Subspace Envoy" (detail), 2019. Photography by Clare Gatto
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"UIIRender,SetActive(true);", 2019. Photography by Clare Gatto
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"StopCorouine(DissolveOff());", 2019. Photography by Clare Gatto

A new site-specific installation by Nikita Gale will occupy the main gallery space. Entitled HOT WORLD, the mise-en-scène comprises materials that gesture to overlooked or disregarded strategies of protest and refusal. Using materials primarily implemented in the construction of infrastructure (concrete, steel, wood), Gale’s work foregrounds a consideration of the audience or viewer as a site. Primarily taking influences from spatial arrangements of musical performances and protests, Gale’s practice rearticulates and interrogates existing structures in order to develop new sites and conditions for political action and expression. 

The artist has written the following statement to proceed the works included:

 1. Any fantasy that humanity may have about its future is circumscribed by the reality of rising sea levels and an increasingly hotter atmosphere.

2. When a material absorbs sonic energy, a minimal amount of thermal energy is released. The mechanical process of silencing produces heat.

 3. A “hot” mic is always capturing signals. Imagine the earth as a recording device – a gigantic hot mic. Canyons, mountains, deserts, forests are indexes of tectonic activity, extraterrestrial collisions, human intervention, and glacial shifts. 

 4. Any potential economic, social and political infrastructures will occur in a world that increasingly absorbs the noise and byproducts of technological advancement.

 5. No one owns the ocean.

 The side gallery will feature Phillip Birch: Subspace Envoy, a new-media installation in which an artificially intelligent holographic gamemaster interrogates the viewer, attempting to trick them into playing a game. Birch’s practice foregrounds the fall of humanity through the gamification of the world—the colonization of reality by games from which surfaces an uninhabitable hybrid space, or ‘Gamespace.’ In this space, the game and real life are indecipherable from one another, with work and play becoming one in the same. With Subspace Envoy, Birch draws from centuries old parables, such as the Grecian myth of Sisyphus, in which a trickster of wicked intelligence cheats death on multiple occasions, but ultimately suffers the wrath of Zeus. The story indicates that life is a game, and that while the cheater or trifler may win in the short term, the game will eventually win be design. Similarly, Birch employs a classic trickster narrative to create conditions in which the viewer loses agency and falls into an algorithmic trap as the artificial being learns. Seeking to play, the game and the trickster become one in the same.


Nikita Gale (b. 1983, Anchorage, Alaska) grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, and currently lives and works in Inglewood, California. She  received her BA from Yale University in 2006 and MFA from UCLA in 2016. Recent group exhibitions include Made in L.A. 2018 at the Hammer Museum; Matthew Marks, Los Angeles; Ceysson & Bénétière, Paris; Reyes Projects, Detroit; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; Rodeo, London; LAXART, Los Angeles; and the Samuel Dorksy Museum, New Paltz. Gale has been featured in The New York Times, Art in America, Artforum, Art21, Vogue Ukraine, CURA, and Art Papers, and is the recipient of the Rema Hort Mann Emerging Artist Grant, 2017 and the Toby Devan Lewis Fellowship Award, UCLA, 2016. Gale has had solo exhibitions at 56 Henry (New York), The Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, Artist Curated Projects (Los Angeles), and Commonwealth and Council (Los Angeles) and will be presenting a newly commissioned work for MoMA PS1’s Sunday Session series in February 2020.


Phillip Birch ( b. 1978, Detroit, MI) lives and works in New York. He received his BFA from the College for Creative Studies in 2005 and is currently an MFA candidate at the Milton Avery School of the Arts at Bard College. Birch was a recent tech resident at Pioneer Works, where he developed Subspace Envoy with the assistance of Tommy Martinez and Angie Meitzler. The artist’s work is in the permanent collection at The Whitney Museum of American Art. Recent exhibitions and performances include The Servais Family Collection, Brussels, Lyles & King, New York, Jack Hanley, New York, SculptureCenter, New York, Wadström Tönnheim Gallery, Marbella, Spain,  47 Canal, New York, National University of Ireland Galway, Ireland, Essex Flowers, New York, Centre for Contemporary Art FUTURA, Prague, Czech Republic, Cleopatra’s, Brooklyn, and CAVE, Detroit.


Reyes | Finn is a contemporary art gallery in Detroit, MI, established in 2017. Reyes | Finn reveals multiple exhibitions a year dedicated to emerging and mid-career artists. It is with such presentations that the gallery seeks to reveal a profile both internationally renowned and regional in dialogue. Collaborating with artists, patrons and institutions alike, the gallery hopes to continue to diversify and strengthen Detroit’s arts community.