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Polly Ullrich Review
New Art Examiner
March 2001 P. 50-51
For the Agitha Demark Show
Deluxe Projects Gallery Chicago, IL


Under the pseudonym Agitha Demark, Carl Warnick copied thousands of compact discs from the Internet for the first phase of a sound and fashion installation called Agitha Demark Project. At a recent opening in Chicago of the work, Warnick completed it by offering to "burn" or copy any of the compact discs for the 200 people who showed up. While at the most obvious level Warnick's object was political-he aimed to strike a blow for the free and uncommercial flow of cultural information in cyberspace-his primary intent seems to have been social, that is, to create an art event that emphasizes the fluid qualities of social situations.

Recently transplanted to Chicago from California , Warnick comes from an emerging third generation of West Coast conceptual artists, whose line extends from the first California icons like John Baldessari to mid-career artists such as Jorge Pardo, Stephen Prina, and Christopher Williams, who all mentored Warnick and his friends at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena . Warnick's work epitomizes many of the concerns of this most recently formed group; there is a kind of playful intertextuality, a fearless blend of sources and media, and a willingness to use the dematerialized stuff of human interaction as art material.

To experience Agitha Demark Project, the viewer entered a starkly white gallery which reverberated with music. Clad in a uniform designed by his collaborator Dawn Reed, Warnick stood like a clerk behind a console and handed out sewn cloth "wrist accessories" adorned with an Agitha Demark computer logo, also made by Reed. After strapping on the bracelet, the viewer could approach the console, peruse four leather-bound books made by Warnick, and pick out one of the 1,000 crisply described compact discs for Warnick to copy. About 2,000 more titles were available for the asking.

It was an intentionally minimal scene, almost a stage setting, calculated to throw the exchange process from Warnick to the viewer and back again into stark relief. Warnick's theme of fluidity-a free intermingling of conversation, sound, books, clothing, performance, and ideas that coalesced into a work of art probably has roots in a gleeful Dada sabotage of art conventions, but his art is based on inclusion rather than rejection.

Taking on the name Agitha Demark, for example, not only lends a feminine cast to the artist's identity, but "de-mark" also refers pointedly to "the mark" of the artist's hand. The mark, under these fluid conditions, could include whatever stands for-or "demarcates "-the artist, whether objects or ideas. Warnick radically redefines and expands the definition of markmaking, and in the process aligns his own brand of conceptualism with the rich history of visual art.

Polly Ullrich is an art critic living in Chicago .