Near the end of Bruce Yonemoto’s elaborate, multi-room, video-based installation at Cal State L.A.’s Luckman Gallery, a sculpture turns the world upside down and inside out. A potted plant on the floor flourishes beneath a fluorescent grow-light attached to the top of an upside-down table suspended from the ceiling.
It’s as if the plant, thanks to the nurture of man-made light, is being grown to provide the materials to make the topsy-turvy table. Nature and culture coexist in a convoluted tangle.
The sculpture turns up amid a variety of video rooms. “Bruce Yonemoto: The Imaginary Line Around the Earth” contemplates the dizzying impact on worldly experience of reproduction — in camera images and, more recently, digital pictures. The subject has been on his mind — and in his art — for more than 30 years.
Lately it has manifested itself in response to time spent in South America, below the equator’s “imaginary line.” One inspiration is a Buenos Aires event by a relatively little-known Argentine artist. It may well have had stark if under-recognized cultural ramifications for the international development of Conceptual art. In 1966, Oscar Masotta (1930-1979) challenged the claim of American artist Allan Kaprow that a Happening, a genre Kaprow invented, could and should only happen once.
In essence, Masotta suggested that it was certainly true that one could not step in the same river twice, as Heraclitus explained 2,500 years ago. But — and it’s a big but — if the river-stepping was reported in mass media, the happening was being…