Saturday, September 02, 2006

Moving Shadows


I am warned at the door that the gallery is virtually unlit and to allow my eyes to adjust to low light levels. I push the black curtain aside and step inside, in front of my feet are a spaghettoid amalgamation of electrical wires, television tubes and assorted bulbs and electrical ephemera, amongst this sprawling mass spreading across the gallery floor are projections of changing coloured lights. The television screens and other surfaces of the sculpture contain the flowing, changing movements of jellyfish projected onto them. The coloured emanations from the projectors imbedded in the body of the sculpture create ever changing levels of light and colour, the phosphorescent creatures project their coloured glowing light onto the assembled sculptural items and through the gaps of these onto the walls with shadows of changing intensity.

In the Transition gallery artist Laura White has created her ‘Into The Cold Light’ project as the first part of the galleries ‘Supernature’ series. In this beguiling, restful but also unsettling darkened room White quietly allows us to reflect on issues of nature’s impact on the human world and our human impact on the natural world. Will these creatures whose natural defences repel us, despite their beautiful light, survive humanity’s crass impact on the world?. Our advanced science has propelled us into conflict with our own environment and the other creatures that share the world with us. We can light our houses, towns and cities, we adorn our human festivals with artificial displays of light and colour but this cannot compare to the beauty of this naturally occurring display of light in darkened seas.

If Laura White questions the fundamental impact of humans on the world Ben Cove’s ‘Practical Mechanics’ comes closer to home with a look at the built environment, in the Cell Project Space his exhibit of an oversized pantograph and associated drawings show potential absurdity. The Pantograph is a tool used for rendering reproductions of images, the scale drawings he has produced show modernist style buildings, the linear elements of the drawings break and waver as if under an unsteady hand. The intended modernist order and formality is cracking under the strain of its own precision.

His sculptural piece ‘Decoy’ shows skulls wrapped tightly in coloured twine and pierced by large sharpened sticks. Decoratively sculptural but highly brutal imagery asks more questions than I can guess at, from the cultural connotations of the who to the what, where and why?. In the final darkened room at the end of the gallery sits a screen of a film of a record player, the LP is still but the player and its mounting are rotating at 33 ⅓, the spoken words of this record come from interviews with the leading modernist architects of the ‘50’s. The LP is entitled ‘Conversations Regarding the Future of Architecture’ and features the words of Mies Van Der Rohe and Walter Gropius amongst others. Cove’s video relays the same words 50 years later, the words are the same, the mechanism is the same but it has literally turned round on itself.

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