Peter Fluck's Chaotic Constructions Tate Gallery, St Ives
Tuesday 04 March 1997
Fluck's previous sculptures have celebrated this mess with pendulums linked together so as to create random movement. With his latest piece, Chaotic Constructions, another of our five senses has been co-opted: as you approach the gallery, the work can be heard well before it is seen.
A collaboration with Tony Myatt, director of the Electronic Music Studio at the University of York, Chaotic Constructions has the ability to create music from the swings and roundabouts of its movement. The instruments of this particular band are a video camera and the sort of computer more often found behind the scenes of animated movies like Toy Story. It is the behaviour of particular points on the sculpture - fingerprinted by their colour and watched by the computer - that provides the information used to generate the music. But exactly what sounds issue forth is anybody's guess.
Fluck and Myatt are un-control freaks. All they have done is give the work its limitations, shepherding various parameters this way and that. The rest is out of their hands. Random and unrepeatable as are its effects, the organisation behind the project is far from chaotic. Mounted on the wall inside a part of the gallery known as the Rotunda - a circular enclosed courtyard with round windows peering down from an upper floor - is a large white disc from which various coloured limbs and abstract shapes hang like pendulums. The result - which Fluck himself calls a sort of dance - is mesmerising, elegant, often gently dramatic and immediately engaging.
While both aspects of the work - music and mechanics - could function in their own right, their union adds a third dimension. Most importantly, perhaps, the computer allows the composer to work in a way that is as immediate as that of the sculptor, who can physically grapple with the work to make instant changes. The technology composes music with the same rules Myatt would use if he wrote with a pencil and paper, only a few million times quicker. As with any music written to complex rules or systems, its structure can seem fairly distant to the listener, but, combined with the sculpture's ever-changing form ("a sort of mobile Kandinsky", as one observer remarked), it seems to achieve a comfortable familiarity. To 20 April, Tate St Ives, Porthmeor Beach, Cornwall (01736 796226)
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