|above: an example of optical feedback from Wikimedia Commons|
Monday, 17 September 2012
'Adventures in Feedback', an exhibition of recent work by Mark Eaglen is currently on show at Galeri Caernarfon. A couple of the smaller pieces were ‘premiered’ last year alongside my ‘Night / Light’ photographs at Oriel Maenofferen, and those small but beautifully formed sculptural pieces were just a hint of what was to come from the mind of Mark in the twelve months since. Some of the work you will see in this current show is not actually there…
Eaglen is a technomage, merging lo-fi audio-visual technology and high-brow showmanship. The work is highly personal, yet the yearning nostalgia for analogue and childhood wonder will resonate with many. The ‘Transmission Call’ holographic piece brings to mind afternoons rushing back from the shops and eagerly awaiting the television picture to ‘warm-up’ as we listened to the recap from the previous week’s episode of ‘Doctor Who’. The sculpture is a simplified 1970s TV set laying on its back, as if discarded at a particularly clean and respectful recycling depot. As the viewer approaches it, the dark screen seems to exude a faintly glowing form, the reaction of the viewer attracts the attention of those nearby, who of course cannot see the same thing unless they too come closer. They are drawn to this holographic ‘sculpture’ that floats above the screen like a ghost image, as intangible as a memory.
on show include series of intricate little drawings that shimmer with silvers.
Again, the viewer must experience these, first-hand, as they will not translate
easily through scans or prints and even these change, depending upon the
position of the viewer and the angle of light. There are some audio-visual works and an interactive piece
that uses video cameras and projectors to create a feedback loop that you can
play with, providing endless delight for children and the child within us all –
and again, no two experiences of this subtle work will be the same. There are many
tiny delicate forms and a larger wire mesh sculpture that creates a feedback
pattern in the eye of the beholder as they approach the form. It looks like it
could be a scientific model of something organic.
Like most of the work here, this piece is an exploration of feedback and its form has been created by recording an (analogue) feedback pattern, selecting a ‘frame’ and then assigning the colour and tonal values a three-dimensional depth using a (digital) computer. This three-dimensional ‘graph’ has then been converted to a hologram and now appears as an object that does not really exist.
It relies on basic interaction with the viewer, who has to stand in a particular place in order to see the complete picture. The person stood next to them will see something slightly different, in much the same way as no two people see exactly the same rainbow. I am reminded of the time I saw Marcel Duchamp’s kinetic sculpture from the 1920s titled, ‘Rotary Glass Plates (Precision Optics)’, at the
in Museum of Modern Art . Duchamp’s piece consisted of sets
of glass plates mounted on a motorised drive shaft. On the plates were arcs carefully
painted to create partial circles. When the motor switches on and spins the
plates, it creates the illusion of concentric circles hovering in the air – this
illusion only works for those stood one metre directly in front of the machine. Barcelona
Duchamp was the first artist to really start examining art as a process and to really recognise it as an ongoing ‘conversation’ between the artist and the wider social circle of the audiences. Though nearly all art relies on some sort of object, the art is not that object. The art begins in the mind of the artist, and then continues in the mind of the viewer. The object is a medium. By focussing on feedback, Eaglen has extended this consideration of process into another ‘loop’: an artist does not create in an isolated ‘bubble’, they are a product of the way that their mind interacts with, and is influenced by, many aspects of the culture that surrounds them. By exhibiting their work, they are presenting it to that wider culture which, to a lesser or greater extent, is then altered by its presence. That altered culture is, in turn, experienced by the artist. A feedback loop has begun.
Although the art space at the Galeri is small and oddly shaped, this exhibition fits perfectly as it has lots of small detail, cleanly and elegantly presented. It is not a large exhibition, but it will reward the viewer who spends time to engage with it. The lasting impression that I came away with was a simple beauty born out of chaos and complexity.
You can see examples of Mark Eaglen’s work at his website here...
Or go to the Galeri website for more information about his current exhibition.