WALKING INTO THE Transformer Gallery‘s new exhibit, “E5: Rangefinder,” is like wandering into the id of each artist whose work is on display. The subconscious has been preserved: Faded childhood memories are tattooed on little wooden blocks; ghostly dreamscapes blur within their frames; wistful apparitions gaze at the viewer; connections between people are rendered tangible.

The fifth installment of the gallery’s Exercises for Emerging Artists Program, “E5” represents a months-long process of peer critique, mentorship and painstaking editing, organized by guest curator Lisa McCarty.

Washington artist Kristina Bilonick‘s sometimes Lichtensteinian screen printing on blocks conjures up ’80s teen matinee idols, back issues of Sassy magazine and the insecurities of a little girl consumed by the world around her. A rectangle branded with pink and black Chanel No. 5 bottles embellished with ropes of Coco-style pearls hints at Bilonick’s admiration for both her elegant mother and for Andy Warhol.

Experimental photographer Michael Matason‘s series of four stills displays couples embracing or posing intimately. The bond forged among them comes in the unlikely form of light: the shutter of his camera has been modified to enable 10-minute exposures, giving the light trails weight and depth.

Jillian Pichocki‘s Polaroids are the most haunted, haunting works on exhibit. A series of unrelated people of all ages feels like a gallery of specters. Faces are distorted and often double-exposed; eyes are widened but deadened. The saturation of color filling out her subjects’ features causes their skin to glow, while the additional layers of exposure give them eerie, iridescent halos.

The coldness of a stark, lonesome frontier is illuminated in Bryan Whitson‘s digital prints. He casts a gray pall over a Midwestern landscape, with big skies and sparse foliage dotting the flatness. The prints are small but vast, and entirely transfixing.

» Transformer Gallery, 1404 P St. NW; through Aug. 2; free; 202-483-1102. (U St.-Cardozo)

Written by Express contributor Christopher Correa
Image courtesy Transformer Gallery