Relationships are complicated. There are few systems that make this more abundantly clear than the fragmented minefiled of the internet, probably best expressed through the multi-pronged programme surrounding London’s Project/Number. Led by artist and curator Chris Rawcliffe, the gallery commissioned and launched several of its serial numbers, P/N/21, L/B/16 and I/P/1 (as in an IRL show, a lightbox installation and an inaugural online exhibition) on September 26, along with an editions launch of works by the likes of Clunie Reid, Mat Jenner, Yuri Pattison and Benedict Drew on October 5 and an Art Licks Weekend collaboration with Lawrence Lek.
It’s telling that these all launched at once. That’s especially when Candice Jacobs‘ INHALE (as in P/N/21) is adding to the dominant art discourse of the day against the ‘always on’ culture of work-as-play in a post-Fordist economy. It’s introductory blurb flatly states, “Do you think you can manage to spin one more plate? The trouble is, the more you have to keep an eye on, the less time you have to sit and wonder whether you really need to be keeping an eye on quite so much.”
So here we are looking at a series of photos, gifs and video that generate an overwhelming sense of too much information, coming from too many angles as it bleeds and blends across platforms to become a mass of images and ideas. They make sense in one way but can be garbled into abstraction in another if you don’t take the time to absorb it. Firstly, there’s Jacob’s INHALE in the Project/Number gallery space featuring vinyl palm tree backgrounds and au courant neon light brands replicated in the marble-patterned boxes of tealight candles for sale as part of the Editions series. It’s the first of two exhibitions, one which ran September 26 to October 19 in London, the second aptly-titled EXHALE to come at Liverpool’s Cactus later on this year. Both come accompanied by a website that simply glows white while mimicking the motion of steady breathing.
At the same time Nicolas Deshayes‘ lightbox commission (L/B/16) of giant squid sculptures squashed against a glowing white screen welcomes its audience while Tristan Stevens‘ #happybirthdayniall gif series (I/P/1) features an anxious loop of the kind of ride that doesn’t end. There’s a view of clouds within a frame within a frame, moving ever forward without ever coming closer in ‘flip’ (2014). The ubiquitous loading animation of YouTube’s spiralling circular dots turn endlessly where Deshayes’ lightbox should be in a gif of a video of a CGI rendering of the Project/Number gallery. That’s from a still from Lawrence Lek’s Sky Line series, commissioned for the White Building during Art Licks Weekend, but including a virtual tour of Stevens’ gifs – plus waterfalls and palm trees – produced as part of a virtual video map of London’s art production landscape, trailing along the notion of “infinite access” and a virtual rendering of the city’s underground Circle Line.
It’s here, when watching what Rawcliffe calls “the automated loop that tricks us into thinking we need to watch this more” that one wonders what’s the actual point of it all? Because as platform hierarchies flatten into interdisciplinarity, and structures disperse into outscourced labour, the outcome appears to be a lawless interior of the Rawcliffe-defined “world wide west”, where nothing is finished and everyone’s still working. Hence, the most pertinent question of Jacob’s INHALE press piece: “How are you getting along with your current juggling act?”. **
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