Last week I went to AUCB's graduate art show in Brick Lane. This year photography, fine art and illustration all exhibited in the same space. My main interest was in photography, having graduated from Bournemouth in 2007 with a 1st class BA (hons) Photography. The photography B.A's portion of the show was called Mt.Analogue, an apt and clever title. In 2012 there seems to have been a new departure from digital and a resurgence of silver gelatin prints and sculptural pieces.
The entire graduating year were of very high standard, but two or three artists particularly interested me, Kharn Roberts, Loz Clarke and Antonio Parente. I met Kharn back in April when I went to an art happening in Holdenhurt Road (Bournemouth), Open Space/ Black Branches. This was a performance piece/ soundscape, and there was something about it that really worked well for me. Black Branches tend to release their stuff onto cassette tape, the artists seem to be preoccupied with the relationship between digital and analogue media, as well as certain obsolete digital media. (I think) they work with the record label Amps Against Trend, who release music/ sound on floppy disk and cassette tape. In this digital age where everyone/ thing is so connected and easy to share, this resurgence of clunky analogue and obsolete media is interesting. These media are limiting; it's hard to share this stuff. These media force the audience to interact, they are tactile and frustrating and messy, in antithesis to the clinical ease and distance of trending digital media. With twitter hashtags art, music, stories, inane idiocy, etc can be instantly shared, trends occur, not because they are meaningful, clever or interesting, just because chance allowed them to be picked up and shared many times over. With Black Branches and the stuff released on Amps Against Trend, this cannot happen so easily. If you want to share a song that's been released on cassette tape, you have to be dedicated, you have to have the right equipment and a dose of patience, and at the very least, you need to pass your tape on to someone who has a cassette player.
Loz Clarke's work comprised of a looped sample recorded onto tape that wound around a plinth with sandpaper wrapped around it. As the evening progressed, the tape and sound deteriorated.
Kharn Roberts exhibited an empty metal tray that he later smashed a pane of glass over. It was meant to contain a sculpture/ sound piece comprising of a block of ice suspended over a snare drum. Over the course of the evening the ice would melt, hitting the drum. I loved this idea, the chance element of it, the question over who the author of this sound is: Kharn or the ice or the drum, or the people generating the heat that causes the ice to melt.
Health and Safety forbade him to exhibit his work over fears that a few drips may bounce off the drum and cause moisture to build around the display. The drinks bar collected a massive puddle of water and no one seemed to have any trouble negotiating that.
Antonio Parente's work reminded me of the work made by a student in my year: Will Newnham, who struggled with the relationship between himself, his art and his audience. What I liked particularly about Parente's work (and Kharn's and Loz's) was the engagement in critical theory. All these artists are creating engaging and clever work that push boundaries in carefully considered ways. Antonio has established a website that looks very exciting and interesting to me (as a critical theory geek): http://www.onphotography.org.uk/
What I really love about the show is the title. Mt. Analogue - a nod to the surrealist author Rene Daumal and his novel Mount Analogue, A Novel of Symbolically Authentic Non-Euclidean Adventures in Mountain Climbing. I've not managed to get hold of this novel, though I have read about it, read excerpts and quotes.
Alpinism is the art of climbing mountains by confronting the greatest dangers with the greatest prudence. Art is used here to mean the accomplishment of knowledge in action. You cannot always stay on the summits. You have to come down again... So what’s the point? Only this: what is above knows what is below, what is below does not know what is above.
To me, the ideas in this book marry well with the ideas that Kharn, Loz and Antonio are exploring in their work.