Art & Culture My Projects


I’m delighted to announce the successful launch of Constellations, an exhibition co-curated by myself and Karen Gaskill, at Cornerhouse in Manchester, UK.

Constellations presents four international artists working with sculpture and installation. Minimalist in their approach, all present ideas on remoteness, fragility, disintegration, melancholy, and transience, together creating a profound and almost palatable sadness.

Adopting its title from the patterns of celestial bodies, the exhibition considers the relationship between ideas and the formation of concept. Drawing on the historic usage of constellations as maps or event atlases of the celestial sphere, this exhibition presents a collection of ideas on ephemerality, impermanence and flux in contemporary art. At its very core is an organic grouping of works that when in relation to one another form new ideas and notions, new constellations, each as fluid and volatile as the other.

The works selected are concerned with the fragility and breakdown of content. This instability not only manifests as a dissolution or reduction, but also as a loss of content, a shift in form, or the temporality of an objects’ existence. Each metaphorically deals with the passage of time, creating its own duration, but ultimately brings the attention back to the present moment. The result is an exhibition that in structure and content is all at once timeless, durational and unstable.

The shift from one form to another is most apparent in the ice lamps of Kitty Kraus (pictured above), household lightbulbs are encased in ice infused with ink, resembling small frosty black cubes, which when plugged in cause the ice to melt haphazardly across the floor. The initial sculpture draws murky trails with inky stained water, leaving the often broken lightbulb and its cable trailing, a testament to its ultimate demise.

Surrounded by the slow dissolution of Kraus’s lonely systems, the delicate landscapes of Takahiro Iwasaki (pictured below) respond in their fragile yet resilient form. The mimicry of permanent geographies such as mountain ranges, using delicate and unstable materials such as cloth and pencil lead, create a contrasting, yet equally delicate infrastructure, reminding us quietly about the fleetingness of time and earth’s instability.

The reduction of form is mirrored in the takeaway poster stacks of Felix Gonzalez-Torres (pictured below). Durational in nature, the work slowly diminishes, shifting in form as the audience remove the posters and the tangible aspect of the work disappears. The work is evocative of what once was, of death and passing, and the image of the sea on the posters also invokes a sense of timelessness and strength to contrast the melancholy of the diminishing pile.

Katie Paterson’s two works both deal with space and the universe, and our position as humans in the cosmos is revealed by the works. 100 Billion Suns is a daily colourful explosion of confetti, happening in different parts of the Cornerhouse building each day. Each piece of confetti bears the colour signature of the brightest explosions in the universe. She has shrunk massive events to human scale, and presented them in bursts that will land and be tracked throughout the gallery in unpredictable ways. Earth-Moon-Earth (Moonlight Sonata Reflected from the Surface of the Moon) on the other hand, is a work that transforms Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata using radio waves (pictured below). By bouncing Morse code of the score off of the moon’s surface, errors are created that are reproduced in the version played by the piano in the gallery. The lost information in the score is as a result of some celestial interference, a chance intervention that is not unlike the chance vagaries of the room temperature and floor surface that will impact the final form of Kitty Kraus’ ice lamp works.

The works in this exhibition each work in different ways with form, material, and change. Katie Paterson’s confetti canons are an addition to the environment, while viewers slowly subtract Gonzalez-Torres’ work from the gallery. Kraus’ ice lamps physically transform from 3D to 2D, while Iwasaki’s work plays with scale and form by transforming the idea of a mountain into household materials. The radio waves that Paterson used to send the Moonlight Sonata to the moon and back echo the ocean waves represented on the Gonzalez-Torres poster. Natural materials such as ice, water, soil, and air are present in all the works in either representation or in physical form. The pieces here may be minimal in aesthetic, but they are not abstract, they represent real things, and changes in the real world.

When devising constellations in the sky, people created stories to help understand our natural world, to make sense of it. But these celestial drawings are ultimately arbitrary, fragile, and could be replaced by new mappings or new understandings at any time. The mutability of the works in this exhibition are like the fragile understanding enabled by a constellations’ path. We are drawing edges around materials that we wish to know and to contain, even if ultimately, we cannot. The works in this exhibition provide us with a new poetic template to think about our understanding of time and material.

More info on the show:
Sat 25 Jun 2011 – Sun 11 Sep 2011
Mon – Closed, Tue – Sat 12:00 – 20:00, Sun 12:00 – 18:00

Art & Culture

My FutureEverything 2011 picks

Meme Topology by sosolimited

I’m gutted that I’ll be missing FutureEverything in Manchester next week (11-14 May). For the lucky ones going, I thought I’d highlight the things I’d be bee-lining to if I was there.

OK well hang on, for those of you who have just tuned in, let me back up and say what FutureEverything is: an annual four day extravaganza of live music, art premieres, inspiring talks, club nights and events. In short, Fun with a capital F, but you can also sell it to your bosses as professional development and get them to send you.

On to this year’s programme! I wouldn’t miss talks by Sally Fort, Keri Facer, Chris Speed, Ela Kagel, Juha van ‘t Zelfde, and Kars Alfrink. (More info on the conference here). I’d be sure to check out the Steve Reich and Warpaint gigs, and would also be spotted at the ultra-intriguing Handmade event, a day devoted to contemporary craft, digital hacking, and DIY culture. In fact digital craft and maker communities seem to play a big role in the programming this year, which I think is great.

Anyway. Sigh — I can’t go. Hope you’ll be blogging and tweeting madly so I can have a taste of the experience.

Art & Culture My Projects

McLuhan in Europe 2011

2011 is the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Canadian media and communications visionary Marshall McLuhan. McLuhanites all over the world will be marking the anniversary in one way or another, and here in Europe transmediale festival and the Marshall McLuhan Salon of the Canadian Embassy in Berlin are producing a year-long programme of activity. The cultural network project McLuhan in Europe 2011 will explore, critique and celebrate McLuhan’s impact on European art and culture through a series of manifestations to occur in various locations, contexts and timeframes across Europe. While embracing and celebrating the relatively unwritten history of McLuhan in Europe, the events will also look at the development of contemporary media, tactile and mobile cultures, the politics of media culture in the context of the divided Europe and other themes that emerged out of McLuhan’s primary period of intellectual production.

The McLuhan in Europe 2011 project is seeking partnership proposals from organisations across Europe that wish to host and organise activities — download the Call for Partnership Proposals here.

The project has already produced the inaugural lecture, by Darren Wershler, Assistant Professor at Concordia University, and presented by FutureEverything in cooperation with transmediale. Many of McLuhan’s most powerful insights came from his deep engagement with the artistic and literary avant-gardes of the early 20th century. The inaugural McLuhan in Europe 2011 lecture illuminated McLuhan’s creative influences and described the fascinating connections between McLuhan’s predictions and declarations, and contemporary poetry, artwork, and thought. Watch it below:

Art & Culture

My FutureEverything “Don’t Miss” List

I find myself in the same situation time and again when I arrive at a major international festival: too many events happening at once! Spoilt for choice! Unable to decide if I should go to one talk or another, which are of course happening at the very same time in different locations!

The programme for this year’s FutureEverything festival is so overflowing with juicy content, that perhaps you too will suffer this dilemma. In the face of such a cornucopia of content, there is something for everyone, but maybe you want to peek over my shoulder and see what I’ve circled in red on my FutureEverything diary? (Oh and hey, I wouldn’t mind you sharing your picks with me too!)

Ryoji Ikeda – test pattern [live set] / Mika Vainio [live]: “complex audio-visual terrain” … “analogue warmth and metallic harshness”
Konono No.1 [live] / Bass Clef [live] / Jon K: “a thundering sonic attack of 21st Century African music that sounds like nothing ever heard before”
Moldover [live] / Atau & Adam [live]: “a performer who combines the charisma of a rock star with the mad genius of a basement inventor”

GloNet: “an experimental format happening simultaneously in five cities around the globe: Manchester, Sendai, Istanbul, Sao Paulo, and Vancouver”
Shaping the City panel discussion: how are cities shaped by climate, culture, and citizen participation?
Keynote: Ben Cerveny: “taking us from 1960s Situationist ideas to current collaborative interaction in public spaces”
Keynote: Keri Facer: “Learning to live in uncertain times”
New Creativity panel discussion: “How do we play, collaborate, and create in a way that makes a real impact on the world?”
McLuhan in Europe 2011 – inaugural lecture with Darren Wershler: “describing the fascinating connections between McLuhan’s predictions and declarations”

The Feast of Trimalchio: Stunningly beautiful, UK premiere
Eyewriter: a pair of low-cost glasses & custom software that allow artists and graffiti writers with paralysis to draw using only their eyes
Cu Exhibition: “diverse and experimental contemporary art from both national and international artists”

Get tickets!