Polyspace is the first of a number of exhibitions to be curated by artist duo Oliver Perry and Peter Mackay-Jackson, housed in Newcastle’s distinguished art hub, The Newbridge Project. The exhibition is comprised of artworks responding to notions of existence in both physical and digital spaces, of imposing landscapes both natural and man-made, and the duality of human presence/absence in new technologies.
Upon entering, Tim Shaw’s captivating ‘Ring Network’ (2016) resonates throughout the room via multiple bells and speakers. Each bell ring is recorded and sent digitally across the world, ranging from Seoul to Iceland and relayed back to the gallery space to create a new stretched sound dictated by the time spent in-between spaces. This ‘return to sender’ quality of work induces a sense of familiarity with bruised and battered post arriving back at our doorsteps, and the never-ending stream of data on display beside the bells speaks of its own story of an uninhabitable pseudo-space untouched by human presence.
There is a fluidity established between the works. Holly Hendry’s ‘Gulps’ (2016), with its effortless rapport with the architecture of Newbridge, acts as a subtle reminder of how interchangeable natural and urban spaces can be. With a plethora of miniature sculptures both embedded in and distributed around the space, Hendry’s work epitomises the notion of an everlasting human imprint on the world around us, whether through remnants of ourselves in mimicked fossils and teeth, or metal band aids patching the temporary walls to the well-worn floors.
Human input and interaction in the digital age is also a theme throughout the exhibition, displayed with expertise through Anna Udall’s ‘Sketchbook’ series (2016). Using CMYK printing to highlight the impasse between an artist’s and a computer’s signature, Udall pursues perfect alignments in process based print-work whilst embracing the mistakes only a human could make.
On the opposing wall, Charles Danby and Robert Smith, collaborators since 2011, have continued their 2013 video piece ‘Limelight’ exclusively for Polyspace. Illuminating a restored industrial lime kiln with limelight, this exquisite video piece shows a retinal flash every 70451 seconds with each frame lasting 1/30th of a second to create a lightning strike-like event on the gallery wall. Ominous and foreboding, ‘Limelight’ imposes itself onto the viewer unapologetically, if only for less than a second. Chalk around the video projector also acts as a keepsake, with visitors extending the trail of chalk as they leave the gallery.
The tactility of Polyspace can be seen throughout. In this respect, Alexandra Hughes’ ‘Filmy’ (2016) excels. With the artwork constantly evolving and changing over the course of the exhibition, Hughes has created an ecosystem within an ecosystem through vast layers of landscape photography hangings. Delicate and yet utterly compelling, her acetate prints seamlessly adapt to the gallery space, transforming it into a meta-landscape of physical photography.
Throughout Polyspace, the curation mirrors the context with a constant ascension of data, wires and extension cables mirroring the technological advances referenced throughout. All these spaces are interchangeable, as is the work, with the gallery becoming its own spatial landscape.
Polyspace, The NewBridge Project, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 12 November – 17 December 2016.
Image: Holly Hendry, ‘Gulps’ (2016). Courtesy of Oliver Perry.
Liam McCabe is a writer based in Newcastle.