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Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Technologically Augmented Theatre @ Tenderpixel

Preview by Bethany Rex

Scapes opens next week at Tenderpixel in London. A new project part commissioned by Tenderpixel, Scapes is a new installation by media arts collaborative Squidsoup. Scapes conjures into being three-dimensional cities, landscapes and abstract architectures purely from sound, software and light. These visions occupy physical space, but only fleetingly. They leave nothing behind when they, and the sounds that spawned them, vanish.

Discussing theatre, dramatist Antonin Artaud used the phrase ‘virtual reality’ in 1938, some forty years before Myron Krueger coined the term ‘artificial reality’ with reference to the computer-controlled interactive environments he pioneered in the 1970s. Squidsoup updates the field’s multimedia potential, commenting on the creative and immersive possibilities of light-based real-time visualisation in physical space.

Tuned software and specifically designed sounds are used to generate a series of abstract landscapes visualised on a bespoke room-sized 3-D grid of lights controlled in real-time. As the sounds are played through speakers and picked up with microphones, the visual process can be interacted with- intercepted, corrupted and altered by visitors making their own sounds to interfere with the original audiovisual designs.

Scapes is a conceptual environment with no physical existence. It unites visitors to the gallery in common experience, allowing them to interact in unexpected ways through different mediums. By bringing into play discussions surrounding the autocracy of the artist, this project authors a new narrative technique, which allows for the interactive and emergent features of the mediums to be fulfillingly embodied.

The installation itself is a room-sized 3-D grid of individually addressable points of light (Ocean of Light) that is controllable in real-time to simulate objects and movement in physical space. This custom hardware enables the creation of dynamic, interactive, three-dimensional sculptures from light. The resulting imagery has a presence, a location in physical space that allows the viewer to move around and experience the work from any angle.

Evoking new conditions of interactive narrative and its possibilities, autonomous narratives are embodied in each element. On the other hand there is the hyper-narrative of interactive relations and experiences that is effected by the viewer’s explorative journey within the virtual environment. Squidsoup’s work combined sound, physical space and virtual worlds to produce a technologically augmented theatre where each performance becomes a unique retelling.

The work has been show at numerous festivals and galleries around the world including Glastonbury (2010), Kinetica Art Fair (2010) and at the V&A (2008) so if you haven’t had the chance to immerse yourself in the Squidsoup experience, then now is your chance.

The exhibition opens on 10 February and continues until 5 March at Tenderpixel Gallery, London. Please see www.tenderpixel.com for more information.

Aesthetica New Issue - February / March out Today

Inside this issue we’re exploring some of today’s most innovative artworks. Russian born Anna Parkina explores history and perceptions with her New Works opening in San Francisco whilst Northern Art Prize winner, Haroon Mirza probes cultural and social history with his latest sculptural installations and audio compositions at the Lisson Gallery. Susan Hiller, who is known for fusing conceptual and minimalist art, takes London by storm with a massive retrospective at Tate Britain and simultaneously shows new works at the Timothy Taylor Gallery. The Deutsche Börse Photography Prize announces its shortlist and we explore the works of two emerging women photographers.

In film, Marc Evans talks about his latest feature, Patagonia and Rachel Millward, Director of Birds Eye View Film Festival, discusses this year’s programme. In music, The Epstein is the band to watch in 2011 and we look at the art of packaging. Awarding winning journalist, Leo Benedictus, chats about his debut The Afterparty, a vignette of our self-obsessed culture and Elaine di Rollo discusses her new book Bleakly Hall set in post WWI Britain. In theatre, we explore the inner workings of improvisational theatre, and a round up of this season’s must-see productions. Finally, gallerist Simon Oldfield offers an insider’s view on what it takes to run a gallery

CLICK HERE to order online or pick one up from one of our STOCKISTS.

Monday, 31 January 2011

Just an observation? Review - Duchy Gallery, Glasgow

Review by Alistair Q

As you come off High Street and enter the beginnings of the bedraggled East End, across from a noisy new construction site and in the midst of a row of hollowed out skeletal shop fronts you could be forgiven for the surprise at finding the large boisterous works of Michael White hidden amongst the churning hub of renewal taking place outside the small Duchy gallery in Glasgow.

Inside, White’s large totemic plaster work looms over the viewer, perched atop a large black stage, its presence squeezing the onlooker as it dominates the white washed space. Within the show are three disgruntled ambiguous works made up from a technique of layered and slapped-on plaster and paint over polystyrene, with fingerprints carved into their surface in an Arnulf Rainer-esque struggle with the medium. White has employed an almost alchemical technique in his approach to the pieces, working fabric dye and acrylics into the plaster which changes and moves as the work begins to dry: such being a theme of the work in that weeks later the two main pieces, Colossal Head and Grendel have changed in hue and dark veins begin to appear within the plaster itself from shifts in the pigment. Within it you can see various forms splash in and out of the mass; caves, faces, mouths and mountains piled up like uncertain cairns. They truly embody some kind of primordial clay as a theme, yet to be sculpted, or goals yet to be founded.

When speaking to the artist his investigations seem to go deeper into the role of sculpture as a classical and state supported practise but also investigating its former overruling ideologies. His research into anthropology and post-colonial contexts is mixed in with his contemporary interests in the seemingly endless mass consumption of inane information that influences our globalised lives. A strong point within this is that with the history of imperial monuments being cemented in the ideology of progression and power it’s a strong parallel when faced with today’s conflicted feelings of muddled direction, aim and goals, which sits well with the amorphous beings on display, not quite sure of what they are or what they want to be.

From this angle it can seem as if the work itself is a culprit to this lost ideology, in that they signify little towards a goal or path for this or the next generation, it is only in looking into the titling of the work that the viewer gains a little in reaction to a decade of confused objectives. Colossal Head for example slowly creates a commentary; being titled after a museum artefact, it reiterates the questions of object, ritual and meaning through its mute existence as an item of worship or utility. In writings on ancient communities, the head had no distinct function and so remains a mystery as to its use and relevance to the culture in question. The concept plays through in my mind as to what connections, if discovered hundreds of years from now, could archaeologists pull together in relation to our times and the works at hand? Michael himself states that his work is “just an observation” and that it is a reaction to the prevailing mood of the times, stressing the idea of an overall age of uncertain meaning.

The name, So Miami, helps cement and contextualise the works in our current culture, centring the show in parody to other contemporary artworks and artists. The artist describes the title as a pun on the care-less-ness of some of the amoral art of the past decade, particularly with the British talent of the 90s and noughties (which, as the title for a decade and on the theme of the work, is an abbreviation worthy of comment). The use of So Miami as a title is effective in grounding the work in mockery of our current British culture, with its reactionary scornful repulsive forms, splattered in functionless colours, strangely placing it in a seemingly pivotal moment for our generation.

With these ugly forms in mind the uncertain and ambiguous imagery of the work can be seen as a burden and a blessing: does it refuse to comment with certainty on the possibility of a banal future since it’s only past experience has been that of an unenlightening osmosis, as White aptly calls it, of celebrity gossip and advertising. Is it not just like other British art with it’s no comment attitude? Or does it truly embody a feeling of movement, shape-shifting and change, of the possibilities for a generation to gather a voice in reaction to the ocean of ideologies?

Before leaving the space, a local in the area, chapped on the door and began to tell us what he thought of the show, since he had been past a couple of times and said this was the first time he’d really been drawn in. “There’s quite a lot of things it could be, you know? I can see a face, a mouth, a man…”. With this in mind maybe the role of the work may not be to comment or preach as to what should be done, but rather to inspire our imagination to make changes that we ourselves can see through.

The next show to open at The Duchy will be Samuel Nias, presented by ARCANMELLOR, A prism applied to the eye glass of my reflector. For further details please visit The Duchy Gallery

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