Saturday, 24 September 2011

Dark Matters - Shadow_Technology_Art at the Whitworth Art Gallery

Dark Matters looks both backwards to the earliest fascinations with shadow and projection, and forwards to the newest technologies. The gallery is kept in an erie semidarkness and becomes a place of wonder and mystery which perhaps replicates the experience of the first viewers of the camera obscurer and magic lantern.

The exhibition showcases the work of 10 artists, whose work ranges from the small and subtle to the monumental. In a preview evening, the larger works are bound to make more impact, and I was captivated by Brass Art's new work, Still Life No. 1. A table is covered by human and animal figures cast in transparent material using new technology in digital mapping, and constructed by hand out of crushed cellophane  A rotating light source casts ephemeral looming shadows which transverse the gallery walls.  On the other side of the gallery, but equally impressive, huge monochrome watercolours depict shadows of the moment of contact between the artists and insects.

Kiss (2011) by R. Luke DuBois uses a digital rendering technique to animate 50 iconic film kisses, turning them into a spiders web of light, with the actors faces seen only in silhouette.

Daniel Rozin is showing two fascinating pieces, where we see ourselves, always the most interesting subject, reproduced in the work. Peg Mirror (2007) uses a tiny camera and 650 circular wooden pegs which rotate and tilt, and whose subtle shadows create a vague and pixillated image of the viewer. Snow Mirror (2006) uses digital technology to project an image made up of softly moving points of light, which coalesce into momentarily recognisable figures.

A performance piece by Ja-Young Ku uses layers of shadow and projection to interact with his own image, creating a playful and mesmerising exploration of reality and illusion.

The exhibition is fascinating and I highly recommend a visit.  I will be returning soon for another look.

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