The fourth week of BALTIC 39 | FIGURE THREE brings us shows by Cath Campbell, a Newcastle based artist, and Martin John Callanan, who lives and works between Fife and London. BALTIC 39 | FIGURE THREE is an open call exhibition that aims to show work that evolves in the project space throughout the short exhibition period of one week.
Cath Campbell’s half of the exhibition, My mum was a beatnik/ Canary yellow with royal blue, consists of public readings of poems describing a journey across eight American states. The poems are taken from film works that the artist is in the process of making, created from amateur travel videos from YouTube edited together and translated using Google translate to lead to deliberate misunderstandings. The exhibition space is divided by a series of screens that make up a backstage area, where an excerpt from the description of Six Gallery, San Francisco (which in 1955 hosted readings from the Beat Generation Poets) is posted on the wall, and the front of stage area, where the performers read the poem created for the video (in the absence of performers a video plays on video monitors on the back wall).
The work weaves together the travel experiences of many individuals, which can now be easily accessed through self-publishing platforms, such as YouTube, , as opposed to at the time the Beat Generation were writing, when one of the only ways to access these experiences was to experience it yourself.
Martin John Callanan’s Each and Every Command is comprised of eleven thick tomes, laid out on minimalist wheeled tables. There are archive gloves on hand to allow visitors to leaf through the books. The text contained within details every edit command made by the artist on Photoshop in the last twelve years.
Callanan is interested in the artist’s place within systems. The use of computer language within the works points to a reliance on programs such as Photoshop and presents “the working” that cannot be identified by just looking at the final image. It leads the viewer to question what is more important: the idea behind an image or the visuals themselves.
It also brings to mind that we live in a time of oversharing in which any information is worth sharing publicly. This is exacerbated by the fact that visitors are invited to download the E-book for their Kindle, suggesting that by being raised to the position of art a string of editing commands are worth reading.
Both parts of the exhibition respond to the ethos of BALTIC 39 | FIGURE THREE, being works that evolve throughout the exhibition in different ways. Campbell presents an arena to test and record text and Callanan a project that presumably is ongoing.
BALTIC 39 | FIGURE THREE week five opens on 17 February 2016 with Luke McCreadie and Mohammad Namazi, and continues until 21 February 2016.
Image: Cath Campbell For the yellow smoke 2014 Courtesy the artist and Workplace Gallery