Presentation for Render Stations
September 2017

 
 

My practice has a focus on digital models, and the statehood they adopt in digital and physical spaces.

My work engages with parametric architecture, financial modelling and systems theory, and I want it to afford a conversation between the sense of construction in these models, that’s been newly empowered and embedded, and the detachment they have from us in their complexity, and scale.

Specifically, I’m interested in two functions that these models have: the roles they have to play as structural units, and the roles they could play as containers of value. I’ve been trying to make ways of separating these two, and it’s resulted in the work presented for Platform, and the work that’s directed my practice for the last 4 years: a redirected form of minimalist sculpture, acting as rendered diagrams and stations for these models, using narratives of physical value to intercept and amplify their visual systems.

Now, what does something like this look like?

If you’re entering the exhibition for the first time, this is what you see. A large sculpture elevated out from a wall – it seems to defy the space it’s placed in, and you’re not sure how its put together. You see a floor sculpture that looks like a grid and a hole – you can’t quite tell – and small frames at different heights around the room – they all look slightly different.

It’s a simple and minimal presentation, and this is something that’s important to my work, how you gauge it first as a visual system and the kind of leap you take in understanding its digital operations.

A simple version of this is the kind of work that got me into doing art in the first place. I wasn’t fond of painting until I saw the Suprematists and Futurists, and I wanted to make work like theirs that dealt with a controlled field of variables, where everything looked clean. It evolved into works like my ‘field’ series, that blows up single pixels into unique fields hundreds or thousands of pixels wide. It’s unit value comes from the same point as its containership, and it ends up giving the relationship between digital structure and value a kind of integrity. These pixels could have contained anything at one point, and would still be blown back up in this visual system.

I remember actually going and seeing Malevich’s black square in person about 4 years ago, and being really disappointed by how physical it felt. I was expecting something that felt digital, and instead I got something real. This was a major turning point for my practice.

Render Stations is the centrepiece of Platform. Or at least, this is one view of it, a list of its materials. A broadcast tower for Sender Giebel. PF Grade I-VI timber, oil, glue with uncut white diamonds, matte spray paint, gloss spray paint, uncut black diamond supports with phosphorescent varnish, multi-wall carbon nanotubes, japanned screws, diamond dust. The work pulls together a mix of mythical, material, and dematerial surfaces, all referencing modes of conduction; diamonds, carbon nanotubes. They are there, somewhere in that object, but you don’t really want to believe it, there’s no visual signal of value, just a bunch of kiltered cubes.

Each unit’s actually identical, and the kilters are designed to program in a 12-bit binary encryption into the 12 pieces of each cube. They form a blockchain. And it’s something that can only be read in physical space. You can see it looks like it’s getting wider and more unstable as it goes up, but each step is the same, and moving round the opposite effect happens. The kilters mean it can’t be spatially pointed down in CAD software, and can only be read in a physical space.

That line of work is by far my most dense, and I want it to overpower that distance between visual and conceptual system. It occupies a sort of headspace that turns into a physical space. I’d feel uneasy putting more than one piece like this in a room, so for Platform, I put in a different line of work where that distance is more contained and integrated.

This is the second point of contact in Render Stations, and uses 49 cameraphones sourced from a corporate fleet. The phones were connected to each-other through an encrypted network, and then the outer plastic shells shredded. This phone was the first commercially available encrypted phone equipped with a camera. You had people working in data-sensitive industries taking photos of their family and friends, and finding them locked within this private network, unable to get out. The network has a clear structure, and at the same time, a kind of indivisibility, which I’ve tried to play with, and which I think presents bridge between the ‘renders’ I make in space, and the ‘fields’ I make on computers.

The final part is a development of these ‘fields’ with a more conceptual twang, and a similar interplay of structure and value. Just as the originals use the AI of enlargement algorithms on their own base unit of pixels, this piece uses the AI of animation on the base unit of movement. Specifically, a 4-frame GIF that rotates endlessly, a drawing of all the metadata made to produce the next frame. A frame of what?

For Platform, this piece wasn’t presented as an animation, instead taking up 4 small prints around the room. They’re deliberately small, all placed at different heights, and absolutely subservient to the other two, physical, pieces on display.