The struggle to control nature is deeply rooted in Western thought. The ideal garden has been used throughout art history to convey our quest for dominion and nature’s compliance. Through the ages we have enlisted technologies to mediate, document and tame nature...or to understand it. This exhibition brings together video, electronic media, appropriated material, sound and light from four internationally acclaimed artists. Each work captures migratory, programmed movements, flows & computations between the natural and the technological realms. We move from hauntingly familiar moments of animated, naturalistic movement or behavior to the sudden realization of some underlying mechanical or technological control. Each work shifts us between the illusory and the real; the organic and the code; nature and technology.
The Centrifugal Soul is a fantastical combination of magical illusion and scientific theory. From early Victorian times we have the zoetrope: a pre-film, animation device. This one is big and spins in rapid rotation and stroboscopic light to create a lush, dizzying illusion of flapping, mating, preening birds and flowers. Mat Collishaw has immersed himself in the visual supremacy theories of environmental psychologist Geoffrey Miller. Here, all visual excess is spun to the outer surface, captivating us, distracting us from the empty centre.
What happens when you remove all detail: how much or how little information is required for visual comprehension? Jim Campbell’s glittering LED matrix appears as a starry block of blinking, white lights. But from a privileged vantage point, things suddenly shift : moving shapes that are barely decipherable to the eye become strangely comprehensible to the mind and we become aware of an exploding migration of birds in flight: Exploded View Birds.
Jim Campbell is similarly interested in the void and absence. His work explores what might happen when you remove all the details: how much or how little information is required for comprehension? From most perspectives this LED matrix appears as a random array of blinking lights. But from a privileged vantage point, things shift into focus: moving shapes that are barely decipherable to the eye become strangely comprehensible to the mind: the ghostly migration of birds in flight.
A piano soundboard hangs in the gallery. Stripped of it’s weighty, body-housing... suspended, it becomes a more ethereal type of stringed instrument. A flock of migrating swallows alights on the strings; an enchanting act that triggers a series of random notes. But these projected shadows are a flock long gone. Small solenoid devices allow the strings to be plucked by an absence of shadows. Piano Migrations, by Kathy Hinde integrates reality and illusion.
Natures by Davide Quayola are a series of plant studies, described as vibrant, immaterial and contingent. The behavior of plants and flowers is interpolated through precise measurements and generative sound into a new synthetic order. The works in this series are based on the ‘clinamen’, an ancient idea that describes an unpredictable swerve or flow of atoms that was once understood as the origins of life.
Jim Campbell (US)
Exploded View (Birds)
Mat Collishaw (UK)
The Centrifugal Soul
Kathy Hinde (UK)