Monday, 19 March 2018

Rez, Pakui Hardware, ByIKO, Liu Chuang and Gumball

This Thursday is the opening of I’m sorry, I didn’t quite catch that at arebyte, and has pretty much consumed this week. I’ve made very little progress in my own work due to organising everything else, which is of course always bound to happen, alongside getting back into reading, thinking about some future curated projects and making some medium sized decisions. Oh and the draft copy of the upcoming issue arrived and looks fantastic. Anyway, let us begin.
I’ve not spent too much time in the studio this week, which is kind of frustrating, balancing work and planning for the upcoming exhibition has been a bit of a hassle. I began to put together a short text of sorts, a text about the now, creation and the future. It’s simple and subtle, and may be added to in the future:

Years ago, life was born in the primitive sea.

Young life forms constantly evolved in order to survive.

Some prospered, some did not, all sorts of life ebbed and flowed like the tide.

In the quiet rhythm of the mother sea, life grew, always seeking to survive and flourish.

Soon life began the advance towards land, creating new habitats.

A great prosperity came, as life conquered even the highest mountains.

Mass extinctions came wave after wave

Empty niches always quickly refilled, to once again prosper, grow and reproduce.

Soon the next great emigration will occur, as we leave this existence looking for another.

The journey will begin anew.

The world won’t end, it never does.

I hold within me the memories of all that has passed.

Who am I?

So that’s something, something to think about, something to write about, potentially the text to accompany a new video. I’ve been thinking more about the degree show and what that should be, finally coming to the conclusion that I should organise a curated show with a show of my own, akin to Mark Leckey’s The Universal Addressability of Dumb Things whereby Leckey borrowed art objects from artists and museums to put together a ‘curated’ show of sorts. I also thought about the Mantel exhibition that I visited a few weeks ago, curated by Doug Bowen, whereby a series of mantlepieces were custom made for the show and the art objects to sit upon. I’m currently thinking of creating a series of benches/booths/office pods for the work to reside on/in, although I’m still working this out. It would be an exhibition curated by me, including some work by me alongside around 10 – 20 artist works too, small pieces, be it paintings, sculptures, videos, etc. I was also considering how this could be an interesting promotional tool for isthisit?, displaying the past issues, but I don’t necessarily need it to be fully attached, even though it will be what I’m curating it under. I’d like to make a publication to go alongside perhaps, with interviews maybe? Anyway, that’s something I’ll be thinking about over the next few months, as well as collecting artists for.
Other than this I think that’s it for my own work, I’ve pretty much finalised the desk sculptural works that I mentioned last week, I just need to have two of the Rez images nicely printed, photograph it and a new piece is completed. I’ve fully slowed down this term, a combination of getting a job and doing the solo show at Annka’s, although that was ages ago. Or maybe it’s just me taking more time with things, appreciating things more, taking it slow… I dunno.

Anyway, planning for the show this week has gone fairly smoothly, a lot of money has been spent on Ubers, annoying but something that will be gotten back by sales from the issue, which has officially sold/given away 50 out of 100 copies. I think that’s a success, enough for the launch event, for the two weeks whilst the show is on and potentially getting some shops to stock it for me. I think it’s the most ‘professional’ one so far, the one with the least bullshit, the one that feels the most real. It’s probably the size, being 294 pages, an extortionate amount. So yes, lots of Ubers, lots of picking up and transporting of works, tomorrow I begin installing.
Also this week Yuri Pattison emailed me after having a brief correspondence in late December, and now he’s both in the book and in the show, which is fantastic. That makes 50 contributors for the book, a lovely round number, and 15 artists in the show. You can buy the book (yes I’m officially calling it a book now, it has now reached that status) by going to , alternatively, I do have a PDF of the full issue, which I’ll release once it’s launched on Thursday. Although, I could share it now, who reads this blog anyway?
I put together the majority of the press release, which is taking heavy inspiration from Rez, the video game that sees you infiltrate an infected computer, going against the AI embedded within, kind of similar to the plot of Horizon Zero Dawn, although a lot more complicated. Anyway, here’s the front, it’s going to be a folded A4 sheet, with the front having simply the name of the show, the back fold the small accompanying text and the middle artist names and a map. I’m still kind of working on it, but the bones are here:
I also re-designed the poster to go along with the Rez theme, here’s that too, I do like Rez:
Ah I also recorded the podcast to go alongside this issue with Sid and Jim, that was fun, although I’m yet to receive the file to listen back.

I’ll be a little depressed if this is all the work I did this week, as I feel kind of tired from the whole experience, but I do think that may simply be it, which is so shit. Maybe for all my talk about considering the bigger picture, away from uni, I still abide by the stereotypical notion that once uni breaks up for any sort of holiday I slowly grind to a halt. That would be even more depressing than simply having a crap work week. Anyway, alongside all this stuff I worked two days at Annka’s, which was fun, changing titles and updating computer pages whilst writing the press release for the upcoming show with Signe Pierce, whose work I still have mixed thoughts about…
Let’s move onto exhibitions I guess, another sorely lacking week when working on a Saturday. But now uni is kind of finished for a little while, I can get all caught up on week days, although this week I’m going to be engulfed by installing. Beginning with Assembly Point and a solo show from Lilah Fowler which mainly consisted of a series of data driven carpets draped across metallic structures. The same problem occurred here that always occurs when an artist decides to work with ‘data’ as an idea within itself, rather than interrogating a specific set of data for example. It’s the same problem that I have with Ryoji Ikeda, although his work is quite astonishing to see or be a part of it. This on the other hand was a carpet, a very beautiful, hand woven carpet, reflecting the artists’ intimate relationship with data, the internet, etc, but that only takes me so far. I wanted more. A lovely press release text though.
Next up was Pakui Hardware at Tenderpixel. It was a subtle show, silent and still, full of blown glass and melted plastic. I liked it for what it was, not for what it was meant to be, which was, surprisingly, enough for me.
No, No, No, No at Cell Project Space was next, a group exhibition featuring Wojciech Bąkowski, Beth Collar, Nancy Halt, Atiéna Lansade and Dana Munro. It was kind of fun, some nice sculptures from Collar, a series of clay works placed on the floor depicting clenching fists and tensed arms, and some nice oblique drawings from Bakowski. It was a solidly ‘good’ show.
Ah I also briefly saw the show at mother’s tankstation whilst picking up Yuri’s work, although very briefly, so I must return to Liu Chuang’s exhibition, although if I understood correctly the ‘work’ on display is from a series where he basically walked up to people and offered to buy everything that they were wearing/carrying at the time. These ‘artefacts’ are then displayed in the gallery. Greatly bleak.
The final exhibition of the week (I know, only five) was ByIKO at Subsidary Projects, a show featuring the guys who run IKO, a curatorial platform that I’ve worked with before, at a gallery placed within the front room of an apartment. Firstly, apartment galleries is something I’ve been interested in/wanting to do for a while, so that’s a fun thing to always see happening out in the wild. Secondly, it was a solid show, focused around the idea of the automated house, the Amazon Dash button being the main feature. I liked the idea, although I’m not totally sure how all the work functioned when placed within this context of a hyper-consumer, industry 4.0 context, or whether some of the work suited this idea or not. I’m still mulling it over. A nice little add on was the use of a reading list, where the books of the artists were placed around the room, fitting well with the living room vibe, although a fairly obvious idea. Nice.
So, on with films and TV, which is again very disappointing. I watched Annihilation, the badly titled new film by director Alex Garland (Ex Machina, etc) which features a team of scientists and military personnel venturing into a bubble of sorts that is slowly growing, changing and distorting the evolutionary process of animals and humans alike. I liked it, not as much as his previous work, but it was very well done, a fantastic story, solid acting and a great soundtrack. I would highly recommend.
Oh and I also watched The Truman Show again. I watched a short clip on YouTube and just got drawn in. It’s still fantastic, although how good would it be to have it as a drama, not a comedy. Still, a fantastic film.
In TV I watched Seven Seconds, very basic story about a black child being killed by a white cop and the repercussions of such an act, basically full of police corruption and that kind of bullshit. It’s well done but very obvious and has been done many times before.
I’ve returned to watching The Amazing World of Gumball, an animation that I had previously shunned as being too childish, but in actuality it’s an incredibly clever and cutting show, akin to South Park but without the rude humour. Very cutting, perfect for parents and kids to watch, although kids will understand very little as it’s so clever and satirically layered. I’m enjoying.
Lastly I’m currently enjoying Counterpart, a TV show where the world was duplicated 20 or so years ago, creating two parallel worlds which secret agents can travel between. The two worlds have become very different from each other, with the premise of the show being that an assassin from one world has crossed over to another, with no one knowing why or what she (the assassin) intends to do. It’s a solid TV show with J.K. Simmons playing two people at once, which is always a fun thing to see.
I think that’s it for TV and film, I began reading Bit Rot this week by Douglas Coupland, which is fantastic. Short stories and essays, tales of the future focusing on technology and the internet embedded between him discussing the past, his past, technology he’s used, the changes he’s observed, tiny details of a life that’s been distorted forever due to various technological innovations. It’s super good and very fun and easy to read.
The final piece of media that’s been consumed this week is Horizon Zero Dawn, which I actually completed earlier today. It’s a beautiful game, that I do intend to keep talking about for a while, with a very good story, mainly due to its fantastic back story and the route to revealing it. I won’t talk about it here, because of very obvious spoiler issues, but it’s just very good and does of course make me want to play more games in the future, as always. I just need to balance it a little more, as this week has gotten out of hand. A final note, the costumes in this game are incredibly beautiful.
Annnd I think that’s it. Tomorrow/today (Monday) I begin installing, the 100 copies should be arriving too, then installing every day until Thursday’s opening (hopefully it isn’t snowing), then Friday an event in the evening, the weekend for art, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday installing at Annka’s I believe, then the week after I may go back to Suffolk for a bit and relax. Let’s see how I feel when I’m lying in this same position in a weeks’ time, wondering about the future and what’s going to happen next.

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