The idea of forces emanating from the visible and invisible realms runs through From Radiance and Dissolution: seeking to peek beyond what is apprehensible and representable, curator Margarida Mendes has selected 11 artists who employ methodologies such as stream-of- consciousness, explorations of synaesthesia, visual hallucination and fluid computation as apparatuses for investigating abstraction. Tamara Henderson, for example, has taken journeys under hypnosis, guided by a practitioner, to imagine – and thence materialise – models for chairs she has never really seen. Kressengarten Chair (Nurnberg) (2013) thus emerges as a composite: its form resembles that of a chair, though it’s partly made of plaster and one couldn’t sit on it. Chris Martin’s longstanding study of psilocybin mushrooms, meanwhile (involving ingestion), runs parallel to Henderson’s journeys into the unconscious; Martin’s painting Untitled (2007) expands onto the borders of the canvas, as if the depicted scenery is expanding into another world.
Synaesthesia, visual hallucination and fluid computation as apparatuses for investigating abstraction
Max Eastley, gravitating towards the synaesthetic, explores the association of the colour spectrum and musical notes: in Drawings for Color and Music Projects (1968), for example, he has reassembled a Bach fugue in colour code. Kareem Lotfy operates within the digital domain, composing 3D sculptures and assembling them in real spaces such as an art gallery. Here, he displays four drawings generated in binary graphic software, and printed on tracing and photographic paper. He intervenes into binary code by introducing bodily gestures, moving his hand on a drawing pad attached to the computer; the resultant images operate as digital relics, fusing our own time with the traditions of calligraphy and symbolism.
Similarly investigating symbolism through collective/subjective consciousness, although differing in manifestation of content, Diogo Evangelista focuses on carpet-making from North Africa, where explorations of the chaos and order of the universe are animated as patterns: for instance, in some of the carpets lightning is the theme for weaving and organizing threads. Evangelista’s video piece documenting these carpets is filmed in an anthropological style, the camera slowly moving across one rug and then another while the soundtrack interweaves experimental electronic music with traditional Persian and Tunisian tunes. The soundscape of the video and the unsettling imagery collide, the result feeling uncannily alluring. The condition of being immersed in sound (even if only implicit) and image is twisted with Maybe Then, If Only As (1993), a ‘holopoem’ by Eduardo Kac, wherein viewers look into the shiny-surfaced frame hanging from the ceiling and change position in order to experience the piece. In other words, according to where one positions oneself, some words appear more clearly than other ones encoded into the piece’s holographic surface – moving slightly upwards, or from left to right, introduces a new configuration depending on the angle of sight, so that the piece introduces cross-associations to a set of words forming a line or a sentence.
James Whitney’s 16mm piece, Lapis (1966), meditatively displays a flow of forms, his hand-drawn figures melting into unified compositions filmed while simultaneously receiving a variety of light sources. Whitney’s investigation of multiplying sources for perception is, it would appear, an exploration of seeing things as they really are. Relatedly, From Radiance and Dissolution brings forth the liminal space between seeing and neural cognition through artworks that suggest what lies beyond the visual through the methodologies of abstraction. As manifested in the exhibition, ‘seeing’ is particular, and at times limiting.
This review originally appeared in the September 2013 issue.