If your timing is right (or wrong), you may enter Flashpoint Gallery’s front door during the run of Brian Davis’ “Try and Try Again” and be immediately assaulted by a loud blast and a ping pong ball being shot in your general direction.
Davis, a D.C.-based sculptor and multimedia, bills his interactive work as a metaphor for inspiration. But his Rube Goldberg-ian kinetic installation may more immediately call to mind such National Building Museum summer installations as the ball-filled “The Beach” and its two mini golf courses, with a somewhat more ominous vibe.
The work is a closed cycle. Visitors can use one of four black brooms to putt ping-pong balls into a mouse-sized hole, at which point a compressor shoots it up through several feet of pipe. From there, the ball rolls down a gentle incline, ending up behind a screen showing images of a fair-weather sky. After that, it becomes part of a pool of balls that get shot out of a hole in the screen, ending up covering the floor, or hitting a patron standing in its path.
The sudden, loud blasts of air that shoot the balls outward can be exasperating, and the surveillance cameras recording unseen interactions between the balls and the sculpture lend an eerie feel.
The work is not without its eccentric charms, such as the surprising challenge of getting the ping pong ball into the small hole, which is a tougher task than sinking a putt on a miniature golf course. And until the next big immersive exhibit in D.C., that’ll do.
Through June 4 at Flashpoint Gallery, 916 G St. NW. Wed.-Sat. 12 p.m. – 6 p.m.