In the past decade or so, local photographer/ painter Derek Dyer has populated the local artistic landscape with all manner of surreal personages: “Glitter People,” “Laser People,“ “Projection People,“ “Earth People” and “Glow People,” with all the makeup, photographic effects and wardrobe accoutrements you’d expect. His newest collection of images, however, makes the strongest social commentary so far, with the materials and forms of the figures taken from and talking to the “plastic” nature of the world we live in, both literally (in the materials used) and philosophically (the shallow, pretentious and superficial styles with which we interact).
It’s also a departure from the 2-D artistic world. These installations are composed of walls, furniture and people made of plastic. If that synthetic substance is—as was proclaimed almost half a century ago in The Graduate—the future, then these pieces might also point the direction of human evolution.
As in all his works, this show is playful in terms of light, color and shape, yet there is also something darker—even eerie—in the way his citizens of the world resemble us and yet remain starkly different. Their odd kind of communication, through gesture and sheer presence, sets in sharp relief their reluctance to relate verbally. In their mute dance—in which time is frozen and in which they can never attain obsolescence—one wonders how much modern life has rendered them inert, and if it will ever have the power to shock them into life.
Derek Dyer’s Plastic World @ Utah Arts Alliance Gallery, 127 S. Main, 801-651-3937, through April 30