The press release reveals little information about what to expect, but rather contextualises the show in between three disparate sources; a conversation between Rachel and Deckard about an artificial owl from Ridley Scott’s 1982 film Blade Runner, an excerpt from Arkady and Boris Strugatsky’s 1964 text Hard to Be a God about historical objectivity and a quote from Stanislaw Jerzy Lec, “Is it progress if a cannibal uses a fork?”
The title is inspired by Goldsmiths digital media theorist Luciana Parisi’s rethinking of notions of sex and gender on biological and cultural terms and posits a “post-sex adequate to a radically expanded conception of what it is to be human”.
The irregularly published zine aims to “edit the identity of ecology from the point of view of art” by fostering discussions about the topic and pushing it into the radars of contemporary artists, writers and poets.
A background white noise awakens a feeling of being just a minimal part of something much bigger than ourselves. It acts as a subtle input to set up the mind, in order to navigate the bright quiet space of London’s LD50 running November 6 to December 3. It’s the sound of a storm on Mars: perhaps the next step within the to-do list of the posthuman subject and her new territories to colonise. In the gallery space, the works of the artists Juliette Bonnevïot and Christopher Kulendran Thomas converge in their joint From Dust exhibition, aiming to unify some inhuman traces while stretching boundaries and challenging the limits of representation.
Opposite the entrance, a series of monochrome paintings take over the wall. Everything seems quite usual until getting closer to the works and reading what materials they are composed of, on a framed white paper hung above them. Juliette Bonnevïot’s ‘paintings’ are named after the pigment mixed with several materials containing xenoestrogens; a term derived from the greek word zenos, meaning ‘stranger’ and referring to natural or artificial estrogen-like compounds. The hormonal composites surface in the form of a coloured texture deployed on long canvases.
Two sculptures from Bonnevïot’s project Minimal Jeune Fille rest on the wooden floor. On one, her own plastic waste is crystallised in four blocks of bio resin acting like table legs. The legs prop a sheet of PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic, on top of which lies a microfiber cloth. An empty glass bottle lingers beside it. On the other, a folding-screen structure sustains more PET plastic, folded and moulded as if it was rippling.Made with the same kind of material, two transparenttorsos, PET Women, hang on the opposite wall, almost floating.There is a very subtle handwritten text on all of them, transcribing tips that so-called ‘eco housewives’ share with each other through forums devoted to sustainable households.
On the opposite wall, Christopher Kulendran Thomas’ works add a very different tone to the conversation. Trapped behind a black web, some cuts from popular vintage magazines and some drawn existential motifs create the illusion of a nature-human merge. The collages and drawings lean on a wooden framed canvas, decorated with pastel brush strokes and greyish angry scribbles. The solemn medium of painting turns into a tactic structure where diverse realities are flattened.
These works carry data from other contexts in the same way each dust particle carries the data throughout the solar system –as mentioned in the press text quoting Iranian philosopher Reza Negarestani. Materials are carriers of concepts and information, which, through encountering the gallery space, create a compound of meaning, recalling our networked, sometimes inhuman, condition. An escape to Mars would be perhaps the ultimate act of humanist hope. **
Morag Keil’s video of a foot, in a gold stiletto, and calf tattooed with a shaky-hands copy of Amy Winehouse’s pin-up girl tattoo towers over the ground floor gallery at London’s ICA for the Looks group exhibition, running April 22 to June 21. Faded a little by the daylight, like a hang-over in the morning, the leg is a show of the anti-puritanical body attitude that the late-UK performer lived by. In the original, the elaborately rendered word ‘Girl’ belonged to Winehouse’s nearby ‘Daddy’s Girl’ tattoo, but on this tribute leg it’s any kind of girl: girl!, girly-girl, daddy’s girl, my girl. Keil captures the complex subjective processing of image circulation as it occurs for each individual within the politics of self-representation; the sexualisation of women, the celebration of skill and/or sex appeal on stage, the aestheticisation of feet and skin, the agency of reclaiming it all by self-branding – by both outfit and needle.
Like a personal head-torch illuminating the remnants of someone’s dinner, or party, or life, this work reflects on Keil’s nearby video, ‘Untitled’ (2015), which is a stream of images from an Instagram account. Almost like advertising regurgitated, the work sees the world through the eye of an other after their obligatory and varied decisions and interpretations have been made;. where to go, what to look at, what to notice and record and how. In this context, it might mean which filter to use. The nearby towering leg doesn’t let us forget that the interpretative lens and the decisions of self-representation (through consumption and production, coagulating neatly in an Instagram account) are complicated and layered by structural and historical violence against personhood, which is processed in equally complicated terms by each of us.
Stewart Uoo’s floor rug coats the ground floor gallery, bridging Keil’s videos and the artist’s own dismembered mannequin sculptures, in a huge pink crust of cringe. Testimonies about the often stagnating pool of teenage hormones, social inexperience and libidinal misadventures from Cosmopolitan magazine lie underfoot like a foundation for our collective sexual (mis)maturing. Relations between men and women are rendered in terrifyingly reductive and stereotyped terms. Nearby Uoo’s photographs, collaborations with Heji Shin and picturing New York scene icon DeSe Escobar, render more complicated ideas of identity and desire. The images have the staging, glamour and vague sense of dramatic narrative that you would find in a Purple magazine editorial shoot. But they’re not a performance for the camera, rather the performance is the creating and exploring of identity. This is artifice that is deeply invested in play and provocation, when identity is a contested ground. As a counterpoint, Uoo’s two women mannequins, burnt and tortured into spectres of fashion, display their vacuity with very much inhuman glee.
Juliette Bonnevïot’s series of chemically complex monochromes are surprisingly alluring, with their cum-spurt surfaces and palette of xenoestrogens. The artist seems more enthusiastic about the manipulation and ethics of materials and compounds throughout the ages – to the current day – than the expression of identity, which makes her inclusion in Looks an unexpected one. In saying that, however, the key ingredient – oestrogen – of Bonnevïot’s series, which hangs in the ICA’s upstairs gallery, makes for a dexterous tracing of the contemporary treatment of gender dysphoria. What’s most interesting in the context of Looks, perhaps, is how Bonnevïot draws attention to the chemical and medical control of identity expression.
State regulation of bodies brings to mind Chelsea Manning’s recent judicial win in a US court to access oestrogen hormone therapy in military prison. In Manning’s case these manhandled–threads intersect with state surveillance and the right to information. Wu Tsang’s work, ‘A day in the life of bliss’ (2014), featuring performer boychild as protagonist ‘Blis’, moves lithely through this terrain, where subjectivity is on the run from the law. A sci-fi plot loses its slipperiness in moments of narrative blundering but the work, like Tsang’s practice, is uniquely invested in its subject matter and politically potent. It’s a high production two-channel video installed on two angled screens facing duo panes of mirrored glass, which reflect the projections in the round. The dualities continue in the parallels between the sci-fi narrative of neo-Orwellian networked observation and the reality of current revelations about the extent of government surveillance; the parallels and overlaps of the nature of identity and identification; and the living of life in multiple modes.
In Andrea Crespo’s video work ‘Parabiosis – Neurolibidinal Induction Complex’ (2015), a plurality of selves, commonly known as dissociative identity disorder, finds a community online where alternative subjectivities and bodies coalesce in a space of digital possibility. Online these subjects, that are otherwise unrealisable or dismissed, express corporeal experience and connect by compiling and sharing testimonies and images. Drifting over a darkened satin sheet the work levitates us into a sensual and yet non-physical space where drawings of ‘Sis’, a symbiotic sister-self, give form to bodies and libidinal desires that are until that point unrealised. Sex and desire online is particularly auto-erotic and Crespo shows the blurry intimacy between self and other, and self and self.
Terms expressing the variability of human subjectivities stream past on Crespo’s hypnosis-blue screen, alongside the language of psychiatry that categorises experience through mental health prognoses. Crespo’s language modes are poetic, diagnostic and self-identifying in turn, the last as a stream of hashtags: #actuallyautistic #polygender #stimming #borderline #bipolar; a cross-hatching of dialects to expand and reduce the subject.
The subject of Looks – the post-human world in relation to gender and sexuality – is broad, and to cover it with the work of five artists is a compromise. From the medicalisation of gender to the chemical splicing of matter, the social media hall-of-mirrors to the control of subjectivities, the net was cast perhaps too wide, which risks painting complexity as style. These artists are directly, inherently and consciously working in and with a context of marketing and dissemination but to mistake their treatment of gender, sexuality and identity as a trend itself would be to throw politically urgent issues out with this season’s look-book. **
A play on art ascribed by chromosomes, group exhibition X is Y –running at Berlin’s Sandy Brown from March 6 to April 18 –provokes, “tell us again how women are free”. Ella Plevin is the author of said quote, taken from a text that comes with the room sheet noting the show’s Richard Kern short-film namesake, challenges gendered identity, questions ideas of ‘radical femininity’ as constructed by men and mentions that women haven’t always had control over their own bodies “(we still don’t btw)”. Hence, “A mop, a selfie, white goods, a diss, #heelconcept, an attitude, hair clips, pastels, sentiment.” It’s a list of words that are not only the object-ingredients of this group show taking its name from Kern’s three-minute 90s art porn, but it represents the work of seven artists (and one other group exhibition) that “both wield and oppose the codes of prescribed femininity”.
Nearest the entrance of the single-room exhibition space Daphne Ahler’s ‘hair clips’ (2014) are propped on the edge of a heater. The two fragile aluminium sculptures are irregularly cut out and look as if they’re the property of a large baby doll. A pair of neon-coloured wooden shoes with brushes attached to the sole are on display in a glass box, half filled with soapy water. It’s held up with the help of four coloured mops elevated from the ground and called ‘Aircleaninglady’ (2015) by its Norwegian duo creator Aurora Sander known for creating narratives using sculptures and mechanic objects.
The most arresting part of X is Y is undoubtedly Anna Uddenberg’s life-sized hyperreal sculpture ‘Jealous Jasmine’ (2014). With one leg bent almost uncannily high up in the air, a long haired human figure bends aggressively over a pram, grabbing it with both hands and lifting the front wheels from the ground. The faceless pastel-coloured cyborg is dressed in what looks like a future fighter’s outfit from a computer game, plus beige-y winter puff-jacket. Another sculpture by Uddenberg, ‘Nude Heart Spinning’ (2014) was first shown in Stockholm nightclub Vårbergs Dansservise slowly rotating like a disco ball. Here it hangs cracked and on silver chains in a far corner and leaves a question mark on what left poor Jasmine jealous.
Flora Klein’s vibrant swirls don’t attempt an answer in her ‘Untitled’ (2014) paint on canvas but Juliette Bonneviot perhaps suggests a preventative measure in the contraceptive pill and aspirin in epoxy resin that make up part of her textured ‘Xenoestrogens Grey #2’ (2015) pastel colour theme. Daiga Grantina’s crumpled silver clash of materials, near to Uddenberg’s spinning heart is the second in anatomical signifiers with its respiratory reference of ‘Pneum’ (2015) lying flat an flaccid on the ground. The sculpture is sprayed with metallic paint while Kirsten Pieroth’s readymade tumbler of a clothes dryer called ‘Oracle’ (2014) lies aslant and open to reveal an inside spattered with pigment that no doubt took a turn in the process.
A framed publication from another pointedly all-woman exhibition hangs on opposite walls, held at Atelierhof Kreuzberg in 2009, the show featured friends and artists that counted Petra Cortright, Aleksandra Domanović, Dena Yago and fellow X is Y contributor Bonneviot among them. A light-hearted response to an earlier all-man show called Larry’s and followed by an all-gay group called Garry’s, the six-years-old publication features a pile of pages pressed behind glass and showing the artists working, taking a shower and forming a human pyramid, all dressed in the same white t-shirts and denim shorts. The presence of such scenes on either wall of the Sandy Brown gallery is discomfiting to say the least. They’re a timely reminder that times have changed but the issues remain the same. **
Looking at the documentation of Airbnb Pavilion‘s Community Development Meeting, there’s little that differentiates the art performance and online exhibition from the corporate residential hosting enterprise that essentially began in disaster relief. The project, headed by London-based collective of architects and “interior decorators” called fàlo (see: phallus) – including Fabrizio Ballabio, Alessandro Bava, Luis Ortega Govela, and Octave Perrault – carries on a series of globe-trotting events began at the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale and resurfaced in Paris, New York and a couple online locations, eventually emerging in a defunct Novocento-style Post Office in Bari, Italy.
Realised alongside 63rd-77th STEPS founder and curatorFabio Santacroce, there are some glaring parallels to be drawn between that physical symbol of global communication in a postal service administered by a fascist government and the development strategy of Airbnb Global Head of Community Douglas Atkin. The event opened with the Community Development Meeting on November 27, the ‘performance’ presenting a first ever physical communion of local Airbnb hosts in Bari – reached via fly-posting, as well as messaging through the official website that required simulating roughly a hundred reservations. Interesting, that the breakfast that featured some of the corporate language and methods for “community building” in a Silicon Valley-style presentation would also be a first for the nearly 600 people and properties available for rent through the Airbnb portal.
The documentation to follow features grayscale image boxes of people suspended in conversation and affirmative slogans like “SHARING IS CARING” and “COMMUNITY OF HOSTS”, accompanied by smiling emojiis or a Euro sign cradling the Dollar, while the site shamelessly announces its success as built on “YOUR STORIES”. Hence, the Do More of What They Love online exhibition to accompany it, which appears less about what Atkin calls “social glue” in his The Glue Project strategy website and more about the business that can be made from it in a “venture that’s dedicated to helping people make successful communities and the loyalty that results”.
Building on the ‘Do What You Love’ culture of modern labour economics, the home for Airbnb Pavilion is not so much about the traditional notion of a community that’s tied to a physical space but the ‘home’ icon of an online portal that’s mediated in the interests of its administrator where Do More of What They Love lives. It features the video work of four artists, including Maja Cule, Juliette Bonneviot, Rosa Aiello and Keren Cytter, comparing the capital exploitation of the exchange economy that the Airbnb corporate giant represents to an indignant Aiello’s navigation of a half-blind first-person protagonist searching for her glasses in ‘First Person Leaky’ (2014). She mutters “one of the guests got particularly drunk and made it clear that my home had been broken into and a bug placed inside one of my rooms” about her “close, personal relationship” with a branch of the Communist party. Meanwhile Cule’s ‘Facing the Same Direction‘ (2014) – premiered at London’s Arcadia Missa for the artist’s eponymous solo exhibition – follows writer and illustrator Anna Kachiyan as she seeks to raise $80,000 via an indiegogo campaign to “pursue independent interests in projects”.
A simulation of space populated by avatars in Bonneviot’s ‘Minimal jeune fille web’ (2014) features animations of young women’s bodies contemplating consumer items in silence via subtitles: “the polypropylene cap has a strong smell of petroleum, which transmits to the water and kills the concept of a healthy water bottle”. Meanwhile, Bonneviot’s CGI bodies meet Cytter’s flesh ones as a woman past her ‘prime’ considers the long-term consequences of her own objectification and eventual disappearance in ‘Der Spiegel‘ (2007): “I need to prepare, stretch my skin like a lampshade”. These are the ruminations on the capitalisation and commodification of private and intimate space set to a browser window backdrop of collages. There’s a woman posing with an exercise sheet stating, “I home share because… I don’t have to have a day job and can pursue acting & writing!”, a list of ten easy steps to “Successful Culting” and an exponentially growing graph of “Community Life Stages” taken straight from Atkin’s The Glue Project website.
It’s perhaps a little known fact that Airbnb Proper is a corporate giant that capitalised on the idealistic notion of the sharing economy in 2008. It was a brainwave that pounced on a post-GEC population with nothing but its homes to offer in exchange for a livelihood. It was the moment to turn couch-surfing into a business enterprise. All this, at the same time as the rise of social media, where the utopian ideal of a networked online culture existing outside of a capital market would eventually be drawn right back in. **
‘Round the back of Jupiter Woods there are mushrooms growing. Or at least there was one, smaller than a pinky nail and indistinguishable from the other rubble in the multi-shelf structures stacked high with chipboard, in the yard of the Bermondsey gallery where the ceiling’s falling in and there’s toxic waste nearby. Having seen the space in a week where extinction was on the brain, this productive generative artwork was a most welcome relief from all the end-is-nigh narratives with their “we’re all fucked” messages during Frieze week.
As part of a survey of all the good stuff on the periphery of October’s art-as-liquid-asset week (more on that here) a visit to The Mycological Twist permanent installation, opening along with Genuine Articles on October 2 and running indefinitely, meant a chat with artists and initiators of the project, Eloïse Bonneviot and Anne de Boer, who point out the tiny white thimble of a fungus, from the stacks of hay, soil and plastic-covered shelving surrounding us, explaining that the rest of the mushrooms could spring up overnight.
I don’t know what’s happened since but in light of energy-sucking artists critiquing energy-sucking enterprise through energy-sucking art, it’s nice to see an effort to transform all the toxins into something a little more constructive. Particularly when positioned beside what I can only describe as the most beautiful toilet I’ve ever seen; a maybe disused outhouse with yellow, green, red, blue and brown paint peeling from its inner walls and a perfectly round cistern beneath a TV rack screening ‘Respawn’ (2014). It’s a collection of video featuring contributions from 17 artists, Juliette Bonneviot, Sam Kenswil, Lars TCF Holdhus, Anna Mikkola, Emily Jones and Jaakko Pallasvuo among them.
Launched with a mushroom brunch and dinner and a ‘Shroom Music & Myco_educational_VJ-set’, where Bonnevoit and de Boer occupied the first floor roof top of Jupiter Woods to play their evolving playlist, The Mycological Twist is an experiment in the regenerative powers of the fleshy, spore-bearing bodies. That’s all while offsetting some of the the energy needed to keep the digital image going and the ‘Respawn’ video rolling. **
“We need to talk about the stick again,” declares Johannes Thumfart in Linear Manual a collection of essays, images, sidebars, “slides and poetry” exploring themes of tools, power, fetish, surface and, of course, sticks. Featuring 13 contributors, “hosted” by Berlin-based artist Martin Kohout and published under his own bespoke TLTRPreß (TooLongToReadPress) publisher, as well as PAF, the book may have been published two years ago but its ideas are no less (if not more) relevant.
Intermittent thumbnails, photos, illustrations of people and animals holding and using twigs, batons, staffs, rods are strewn across the thin, pale-pink covered book –designed by PWR studio’s Rasmus Svensson. Arrows, pointers and cursors direct the eye, one toward the Linear Manual title of the spine, another to an opening quote from Alain Robbe-Grillet’s The Voyeur where its confused protagonist Mathias finds himself pondering an excuse away from his hosts:
“The complete lack of form which presided over the latter’s arrangement prevented the salesman once again from knowing what to do.”
Based on and built around the structure of a conference meeting, Kohout provides the form Mathias’ meal is lacking in the “Morning session”, “Lunch break”, “Afternoon session” and “Tea at five” segments splitting and interjecting the sequential, or ‘linear’, nature of his chosen book format. Paul Pieroni’s text-box antagonisms pop up with the odd haughty comment across “Better ignorant at 47 than self-aware at 30. So STICK AROUND” or “This one’s after some Jagermeister…” and Jo-ey Tang’s series of photocopied pages composed of text revealing “the age of the questioned document… completely dropped”. Tang’s words follow Paul Haworth’s poignant eulogy to a broken heart that unfolds across a bathroom and the subway; emotions in relation to space and infrastructure –“this is my life”.
“Here too he found himself unable to act according to any rule he could interpret as applicable…”
That’s another echo of the aforementioned Robbe-Grillet quote, as one contemplates Brian Droitcour’s brilliantly deadpan ‘Robots in the Commune’. From the outset it calls out the “hordes of hipsters… fuelling the same corporate giant they’re trying to take down” during #OccupyWallStreet with their iPhones, accompanied by an image of onlookers taking happy snaps of riot police. A familiar Office Assistant icon of a paperclip personified (“You’re computer seems to be turned on”), accompanies the piece as it deconstructs the “totalitarian networks” of word processors and Google search engines and their role in developing and perpetuating ideology through ‘contextual discovery’: “robbie williams naked. Related searches: robbie williams fat”.
Juliette Bonneviot also recreates the monotonous and misleading nature of unreliable online constructions of reality through film stills for ‘La Mort De Lully’ (‘Wikidemia’). Here, the story of Baroque composer Jean-Baptiste de Lully, is told through the non-descript, grayscale CGI form of a male archetype, narrated by white bubble text: “Lully refused to have his toe amputated and the gangrene spread, resulting in his death on 22 March”. It not only illustrates the banality of the network’s malevolence but questions how we allow for things like this happen. Pieroni’s blunt answer comes in one of his forthright interjections: “Convenience FUCKO.”
Dieter Roestraete’s ‘Jena Revisited (Ten Tentative Tenets)’ links what he thinks is the problematic “rhetoric of emancipation through immersion” –where the “idea of the art world starts to eclipse the idea of art” –to the network as well. He uses Caspar David Friedrich’s famous ‘The Wanderer Above the Mists’ as an allegory for the “haze that fills today’s art world”, where, like in Droitcour’s ‘Robots in the Commune’, it exposes the “utopia of mobility”as becoming “a dystopia of absolute immobility”.
Perhaps that’s why the timeless format of the bound book is such an apt one for Linear Manual; it’s segments offering a structure to the multimedia presentation that an actual interactive, multimedia format couldn’t. Yet, while the book form itself perpetuates the arbitrary idea of duration in the imposed structures of the working day, Linear Manual also both mimics and negates the distracted habits of the online browser. Because, while the diversion from Thumfart’s ‘Why We Need to Talk about the Stick Again: A Post-Deconstructivist Meditation’ is encouraged away from the “Animals use Sticks too!” subheading by a ubiquitous arrow pointing toward a 2011 wikipedia entry on the New Caledonian Crow, the extent and breadth of this distraction is still restricted to content curated by Kohout. You may have the option of disregarding it, but it’s still the only content there to disregard.
Meanwhile, the smoothed-edged box of Pieroni’s aphorisms continue to appear as listless distraction alongside and away from Linear Manual’s central pieces. Kohout’s dazzling ‘Sticks: Class A’ series, photographed in collaboration with Rachel de Joode, fashioned and fetishised by bold colour blocks, sport grips and wrist bands against a blue-clouded backdrop are met with Pieroni’s, “I like the look of awkward vegetables on the glass”. There’s fetishisation throughout Linear Manual; of textures, the nine-to-five workday, a chrome draw handle suspended in white space. The complexity and stark beauty of a corporate-like glass railing is set and displayed on its own with a “Four Seasons glass railing available at www.glass-railing.net”, an actual showcase of glass railings for sale online.
Published in 2012 Linear Manual holds up in its interrogation of contemporary technologies, despite a widely held assumption that their progress is advancing at such a rate that softwares can become obsolete within a matter of months, but there are things that don’t change. We’re all still Thumfart’s “animals in human costume”. The lack of distinction is not only illustrated by the New Caledonian Crow’s ability to also use tools like we do but our own persistent exploitation of these tools for “allowing men to treat their fellow men like animals” –whether by stick or by internet. Sadly, there’s been no tool invented for circumventing human nature, as Mathias’ narrator declares within The Voyeur’s confusing and ambiguous time frame: “the meal had no more reason to be over than it had to continue”.**
A space for reflection: on the artist, their medium and our modern condition. To clarify, that’s ‘modern’ in the mode of Nadine Jessen’s “technologically advanced colonisers”, where the patriarchal drive to conquer has gone as far as penetrating our very minds; through a ‘progress’ that’s almost reached that Singularity of man–made devices superseding human intelligence. That’s planned obsolescence care of things sold to people as a necessary tool in the mundanities of daily life. Books are read, bills paid and idle chatter conveyed through these pixelated oracles, where information can be withheld and data surrendered to the Greater Will. So then, how much control do we have over these tools of convenience? More importantly, if these iPads and tablets are imbued with our thoughts, becoming embodied with our consciousness, then what else are we surrendering?
“(pause) Focus Inside (on hold)”. That’s a quote from thelimited-run litany supplementing Eloise Bonneviot’s group presentation, The Meditative Relaxation Cycle. It sounds like the language you’re more likely to use on the phone or watching a DVD but in this scenario, you are doing at least one of those things. In the sparse curtained space of London’s Arcadia Missa, you’ve got one flatscreen, one remote control and 11 artists on the Main Menu to choose from, each one producing six drawings, rendered on an iPad or tablet and administered via the divine guidance of Surrealist automatism. This is a psychic exercise, an expression of the very “materialisation of spirituality” the exhibition leaflet alludes to, as revealed through a commodity.
As a gentle nudge to interaction with the 66 on show, images move forward one-by-one, zooming in from micro to macro, before diffusing and making room for the following. It takes time to view every series; 12 precious minutes to properly engage with the image in front of you. There’s the suspended motion of Anne de Boer’s vivid PaintShop swirls, glitching briefly at points, Ada Avetist’s disheveled default toolkit compositions, violently shuddering when they get too close, and FourfiveX’s white-on-black geometric patterns, becoming more intricate and expanding well beyond their frame. Digitally generated and captive to the grids and pixels of its artist’s chosen program (‘chosen’ insofar as being limited to the catalogue of software and computers they have access to), every image is a rendering of its creator’s character, an expression of their subconscious –their very personhood.
The results vary wildly in terms of approach. Hrafnhildur Helgadottir’s candid sketches use shape presets as for their gestures and Aude Pariset’s flat coloured strokes stand in stark contrast to Ilja Karilampi’s slinking, shaded ribbons and Sæmundur þór Helgason’s solid spheres. Already, it’s apparent that the aesthetic language, the creative lexicon has been set out by the tools used, even the dimensions of the frame, as Helgadottir’s light–blue tempest of circular scribbling demonstrates. Its rounded edges are slashed at the sides, being incompatible with the sharp 45-degree angles of the box it’s supposed to sit in.
But there’s also disruption. Juliette Bonneviot‘s coiled scrawl quivers as it magnifies, giving the illusion of spiralling ever-downwards while staying suspended in motion. Luca Francesconi’s thin, inky black line, not only trembles in response to its own contrast with a bright white background, but also conjures a whiter-than-white residue appearing as a silhouette in hue-less space, as visual focus flits across the screen.
To a degree, artistic response to the brief appears highly gendered. Karilampi, Helgasonand Gregory Kalliche fortify themselves against the perils of contingency, establishing order by creating depth, texture and tangibility to their CGI sculptures. Kalliche’s abstract scenes from his psychic depths, a procession of moulds that operates on textural juxtaposition, are overwhelmed, attacked and torn apart by an even more brazen image to follow.
But as stunning as they are, it’s as if there’s less, not more, depth to Kalliche’s renderings; their structure and stubborn substance blocking out the incidental behaviours that make the cookie-cutter sparseness of something like Helgadottir’s drawings far more dynamic. It’s an unruly energy that only briefly slips through a fissure on the crumbling surface of Helgason’s heavy, rounded orbs in the form of a flickering electric line buried in a crevice. Mostly, though, it’s in the space around his images where the fault lines of a pixelated fallout appear.
Actively confusing these formal distinctions, the blurry, feathered edges of Martin Kohout‘s strokes presented in high definition, mirror the nature of these images as a whole. As each one comes closer, blurring and sharpening at intervals, while its form imperceptibly dissolves into a grid-like skeleton, it becomes impossible to distinguish where an image ends and where it begins. All the while it reveals itself as both construction and imagination –its real world effect as actual as it is abstract.