One Piece: (The Ray Lee Project Vol. 1) NDD Immersion Room by Rachel Lee Hovnanian

The artist talks about reduced attention spans, nature, and being separated from our electronic devices. 

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Rachel Lee Hovnanian, (The Ray Lee Project Vol. 1) NDD Immersion Room, 2017. Installation view. Courtesy the artist.

My latest project is a conceptual installation known as (The Ray Lee Project Vol. 1) NDD Immersion Room. It is an all-immersive intersubjective installation that forces one into a meditative, contemplative state. This work requires visitors to place their phones into a lockbox at the door before entering a dark, woodsy environment. The title of the work derives from the concept of Nature Deficit Disorder (NDD), coined by American journalist and author Richard Louv to describe a form of human alienation from nature that results in both a greater susceptibility to negative moods and a reduced attention span. As visitors enter the installation, their eyes adjust to the darkness of what appears to be a night deep in the forest. Dry leaves crackle underfoot, while the chirps and whirrs of live insects fill the air. Few signs of civilization are present: a lantern and a campfire are all that illuminate the interior space. While it is recommended that visitors commit to at least ten-minute immersion sessions, those who cannot tolerate this amount of time may exit the installation and retrieve their technological device from the lockbox. The Ray Lee avatar is my male pseudonym.

This gender switch for me is a way of disguising my real-life persona and masking the artwork from being perceived as “by a woman artist.” Ray Lee was my nickname at the University of Texas, Austin, where I received my BFA in Painting and Sculpture. The pseudonym originally debuted during Armory Arts Week at SPRING/BREAK Art Show 2017 to a public unaware that the art and the artist Ray Lee were my inventions.

(The Ray Lee Project Vol. 1) NDD Immersion Room is on view at Victori + Mo in New York until December 22. 

Rachel Lee Hovnanian received her BFA from the University of Texas, Austin, and has since exhibited internationally in both solo and group exhibitions in the United States, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. Her recent solo exhibitions have been held at Leila Heller Gallery, New York; Pechersky Gallery, Moscow; Joyce Gallery, Beijing; and Foundation Pons, Barcelona. In addition, Hovnanian has been widely shown in group exhibitions including the University of Connecticut; Parasol Unit in London; Des Moines Art Center; Manarat al Saadiyat, Abu Dhabi; and at Loretta Howard Gallery, New York, in an exhibition curated by Beth Rudin DeWoody. She lives and works in New York City.

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