Manchester visit

Managed to get to a few galleries during the visit, including the Manchester Art Gallery, Cornerhouse and CUBE. All three were interesting and luckily very relative to my own current practice and direction of work. Rafael Lozano-Hemmer (who had a piece at DECODE) was the artist whose work filled the top floor of the Manchester Art Gallery with the exhibition Recorders (which is on till 11th January). Each piece relied on the presence, humanity and life of the viewer, which made the work seem a lot more organic than possibly previously imagined. My favourite part of the exhibition was Pulse Room; a room with black walls and countless lightbulbs hanging in a grid formation, from the ceiling. Viewers are invited to record their pulse in the corner of the room. The pulse then determines the rhythm of the lightbulb flickering on and off, creating an organic visual ‘animation’ (?). When the next viewer records their pulse, the previous pulse travels to the next lightbulb. As this process repeats, the room becomes filled with a network of pulse recordings, displayed by flickering lightbulbs.

It has a quality which resonates with life and humanity, and in a very basic, simple way, helps us recognise our connection with each other. Although it could described as a simple concept (record pulse, display via lightbulb) it has a great personal effect on the viewer, and I found myself sitting in there for  long time (until I felt the signs of a migraine appearing!). Very successful piece of work.

In the rest of the exhibition, as well as the concepts of the pieces, I was interested in the technology behind them; like the projector and webcam used with Please Empty Your Pockets, and the mini LCD screens used with 33 Questions.

Information about these and the rest of the exhibits here. The description for each piece was also very nicely displayed with a backlight, which appeared to be possibly a basic LCD screen.

Within the exhibition there was also a small room showcasing works created with the Arduino. One that caught my eye was the Theremuino, a Theremin created with Arduino (clue is in the name).

http://www.evolutionaryart.co.uk/theremuino.php

So, CUBE! Designed Disorder, was an exhibition by RCA graduates around possible future outcomes, many influenced by technology and societal changes that we may face.

I found this linked in with my ‘under construction’ Off The Wall brief response, about mind uploading and firewalls, so the way the artists had displayed and visualised their work was very insightful for my own stuff. The piece which most interested me was (—-b&w project). The simple maquette, video projection and diagrams described the concept well in a physical and visual form, rather than a written description. very science fiction-esque The least successful piece was definitely The Soyuz Chair as although it came with an accompanying ‘demonstration’ video, the physical piece was almost embarassing to look at especially in a gallery context, unless it was meant to be ‘ironic’ – I don’t know but I definitely want to avoid that quality of presentation. It’s also worth mentioning Gerard Rallo’s Relative Communication Aid. Very nicely designed typeface and execution in a digital ‘product’.

To finish, I also visited the Cornerhouse on Oxford Road, much like FACT in Liverpool – providing a gallery space, cinema and shop (of course not as good as FACT). The exhibition had some great pieces, the curation was very varied, but the thing that stood out for me was the branding and signage, by Design By Day

Thanks to Miglena Minkova for all the photos!

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