April 28, 2011

NETWORKS (Cells & Silos) – Review

MUMA mentioned in the catalog, that the exhibition is aimed to “explore the connections between artistic representation of networks; patterns and structures found in nature; and the rapidly evolving field of network science, communications and human relations.”

By ‘networks’, I would like to suggest that there is a direct relationship to the idea of connection. This suggestion could be said to be obviously generic due to the presumption of the few paintings and artworks placed on the wall of the exhibition entrance area, namely ‘The waiting – anon’ piece by Hilarie Mais (1986) and the synthetic polymer canvas painting, Ilkurlka’ by Tjaduwa Woods (2010). So networks connect, and what exactly are being connected together at this point seemingly or expectantly to be answered by the carefully chosen network-interpreted artworks of the selected artists whose works are being heavily or mainly concentrated on.

Hilarie Mais  The waiting – anon   1986

Tjaduwa Woods  Ilkurlka  2010

Next is the constructive ‘Extended network towards the happy end of the universe’ artwork by artist Kuji Ryui which is mainly a series of model structures made of colourful flexible drinking straws interlocked together into some kind of cellular shapes. Somehow the artwork brings out a certain reclusive feeling when viewed closely piece by piece rather spatially. Bearing the early idea of connection in mind through into this, another relationship could now be suggested; – isolation which could either mean a complete opposite to connectedness or another parallel relationship. The irony of this Ryui’s artworks is that although there is a sense of play and perhaps control in the way they are mechanically constructed, the slender structure of it almost projects an uninviting story behind their geometric shapes, suggesting a form of isolation. It is however unfair to simply look at each structure as individual form as the way his artworks are installed and purposely arranged in a space by itself suggests a certain spatial environment and this is only possible when the pieces are seen as a collective piece enabling relationships to be created between one another (connectedness).

Kuji Ryui  Extended network towards the happy end of the universe  2007-11

Another artwork that depicts the notion of isolation in the network would be the one by Andrew McQualter, entitled ‘Three propositions, one example’. Here, McQualter is not only successful in creating a relationship between the characters and subjects of his painting but also the relationship between the exhibition space and his artwork installation method. Painted in acrylic directly on one of the largest white-plastered walls of the gallery are the line-drawings of standing human figures that we could see looking very engaged with their heads bowed and eyes on the gadgets in their hands which is by no surprise could be their iPhones indeed. These people are to represent the isolated individuals, by choice and zoned in their very own world absorbed in the new means of communication and social network. By isolating themselves from the environment, they actually manage to connect with other form of individuals or engagements virtually, ‘thanks’ to technology. Their current environment is not the current reality as their minds are completely in another. The artwork highlights all these especially when the figures are purposely drawn randomly without any common ground, making the figures almost floating around within the boundary of the wall. The wall represents the plain environment that they choose not to be in mentally. Of all the artworks, perhaps McQualter’s is best to reflect on the ‘cells and silos’ of networks. The isolation allows the humans to be connected into another realm but at the same time disconnecting them from their current presence; dissipated, they become the cells themselves.

Andrew McQualter  Three propositions, one example  2010-11

Nurulain Mohd Noor

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