Poly-spacing out into new territory

TV Editor Luke Acton had coffee with the creatives behind POLYSPACE at Newbridge

Luke Acton
12th December 2016

had a good time at his exhibition: I get it! The brain child of Peter Ashley-Jackson and Oliver Perry, the exhibition at the Newbridge Project Space explores the relationship between ‘rural, urban and digital spaces’. The name is definitely representative of the kinds of art that occupied the space. There are no barriers or markers between the works to denote separateness so the space took on a holistic feel, the pieces were whole in themselves, but they take on another aspect being shown as they are.

Three of the pieces are to do with systems in the digital space, and its interactions with the real world. Charles Danby and Rob Smith’s Limelight (2013) and Limelight (2016) as well as Tim Shaw’s Ring Network both use programmes to produce light and/or sound as the result of digital processes. They are conceptual art in the post-advent-of-the-internet kind of way, they make you think about the actual dynamics of the systems that define our perspective of the world in more developed countries (only about 40% of the world has access to the internet, this up from 1% in 1995). They look at the relationship between digital and real-world, because things don’t just exist on the screen, things on the internet has real housing in terms of servers, and the things they represent in terms of their special existence too. Both pieces are different, but explaining them out to you would defeat the point (go and see them). The bells, speaker and lights attached to these processes create a kind of noise art that super I’m into, their embodiment of the abstract systems is engaging. The other pieces, Udall’s lithographed diagrams, Hughes’ giant collage and manipulation of film photographs, Hendry’s sculptures embedded into the floor of the space are, all complement each other and the digital art. Their plurality in medium is what complement the sound-producing works and makes the works very present and that compel your engagement.

“Their plurality in medium is what complement the sound-producing works and makes the works very present and that compel your engagement”

POLYSPACE engages on a much more explicitly intellectual level than more conventional shows. When I sat down to with the curators, we were talking about the relation between artworks and accompanying text in exhibitions, Peter Ashley-Jackson noted that ‘[for] the artwork itself, if that’s going to be read, it’s whether you have the tools [to read] the visual language.’ This exhibition feels more like an experience than an engagement with individual works. Of course the aesthetics of the works come in to play, even in the more system-based works. But their processes are all explicitly relevant to understanding of them. Anna Udall’s Sketchbook is a series of prints in the corner in the room, created through the imperfection of the software, the hardware and the hands that had a part in making them, the space between each process producing irregularities that directly contribute to the work. Hughes’ collage also deviates from the traditional representations of film, which was great, especially in the context of the dominance of the Kinfolk aesthetic in analogue photography. They all diverted from the obvious, and it is rewarding.

As much as there is excitement in the technical precision that is honed through years of dedication and practice, the exploration of the nodes in systems, whether that be in the flow of information or in an artists practice, is extremely relevant to not only the audience of the Newbridge projects, but for anyone engaged in the digital.

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