Ellen Ziegler

It's not often that an artistic medium can alter your consciousness, with the possible exception of oil paint fumes—yet that's exactly what happens when you slip up while using an antiquated 115-volt Electropounce machine to make art. "Now I can see the attraction of electroshock therapy," says Seattle-based Ellen Ziegler of the occasional zaps she gets from the process, which she uses to phenomenal effect in her solo show "Electropounce" at Gallery 4 Culture. For the last two years, Ziegler has experimented with this 20th- century sign-making technology, in which sparks crackle between an electrified metal stylus and a copper tabletop. The little lightning strikes burn holes in paper, allowing the artist to create elegant lines composed of hundreds of tiny singed holes. Part of the exhibit features a nearly translucent piece of paper Ziegler found with a machine she bought—a faint relic of this unique destruction-creation process. Ziegler's works are minimal and abstract, but they suggest a full range of associations: celestial zodiacs, mandalas, cells, scientific diagrams, and the tracks left by subatomic particles. In some works, little hieroglyphs from an imaginary language dance on musical score lines; in others, Ziegler follows the bouncing randomness of the electric pen to create otherworldly, spiritual maps. The show is hung beautifully, with some sheets lifted by monofilament to let pinpoints of light filter to the wall behind. One of the pieces is called Strange Attractor, after a concept from the physics of chaos theory—an apt name for Ziegler's art, which burns patterns into both paper and our collective memories. Gallery 4 Culture, 506 Second Ave., Suite 200 (Smith Tower), 206-296-7580. 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Mon-Fri. Exhibit runs through May 27.

 
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