That resonates against one kinship among these artists that is largely unacknowledged. Despite the Pacific Rim diversity — 12 artists from North America, two from Australia and nine each from Latin America and Asia — most went to art school in the U.S. and Europe or have at least lived there. Post-minimalism emerged in the West in the 1970s, soon becoming academic orthodoxy; it's everywhere at OCMA.
That's fine, but it also shows that traveling the Silk Road can mean getting stuck in a rut. For instance, paintings by Kim Beom (Korea) are composed by coordinating firm brush strokes with the artist's loud grunting noises, rehearsing long-dead claims of abstraction as a representation of inchoate inner urges; clearly intended as satire, it just feels wheezingly out of date.
Two other installations are stand-outs. Both suggest the apocalypse is now, its entertainment value among its most sinister features.
"No Exit" is a portentous sound-and-light installation by Danial Nord (U.S.). Suspended in a darkened room above a plush black carpet that invites prone contemplation, a stage-flat with three open doors is internally illuminated by flashing LED lights. The trinity of rectangular doors mimics the aspect-ratio of a movie screen. Both the lights and the thunderous, explosive soundtrack were edited from crash-and-burn scenes in Hollywood action-adventure movies.
Similarly stark is "Látex," a video-projection by Yoshua Okón (Mexico). Grim scenes of an authoritarian-themed performance artwork are juxtaposed with shots of a fashionable, blandly attentive audience — slyly shifting the work's focus onto us, doing the same in the gallery. Individual actions have social consequences.
That's a common theme. Tension reverberates in descriptive paintings of elaborate scientific experiments by Masaya Chiba (Japan), where nature struggles on life support. Videos by Koki Tanaka (U.S.) gather five piano students at a single keyboard and nine scissors-wielding hairdressers around one woman's head, then let them negotiate how to proceed simultaneously with their singular art.
Speaking of Tanaka: Born north of Tokyo in 1975, he lives and works in L.A. He is representing Japan this summer in Italy's Venice Biennale. Whether that counts as Pacific Rim, Atlantic Rim or maybe just Global Rimlessness I cannot say — and I'm not sure it finally matters anyway.
2013 California-Pacific Triennial
Where: Orange County Museum of Art, 850 San Clemente Drive, Newport Beach
When: Through Nov. 17. Closed Mon. and Tue.
Contact: (949) 759-1122, http://www.ocma.net