The Starry Rubric Set, Wysing Arts Centre, Cambridgeshire
Monday 05 March 2012
Cosmology and traditional astrology are ostensibly the themes of this sparky group show at experimental residency centre Wysing in Cambridgeshire, titled after a line in Milton's “Paradise Regained” (in which Satan describes to Jesus that he sees for him a future of pain, sorrow and death, as well as a kingdom of sorts, but he cannot tell the real from the allegorical and cannot see a timeframe). This inability to place the future in time perhaps offers more of an explanation to this exhibition than anything relating to Aquarius or Virgo, though images of constellations do draw many of the works together aesthetically.
In low gallery light, Giles Round's interconnecting lamps cover the walls, held together as though constellations by pleated cables that zigzag around the walls, bringing to mind the way that the artworks impact on one another. Occasionally one hears Laure Prouvost's voice saying "this voice is a big pink light cloud... surrounding everything", while Kate Owens's beautifully transformative film, projected on to the ceiling and resembling images of a divine cosmos, is made by a slowly changing set of photographs of speckled linoleum in different shades and patterns, pulling the most banal, unloved material from the floor and sending it skyward.
In other works, however, including a John Latham work and performance documentation demonstrating his "Time Base Theory", pasts, presents and futures start an intriguing form of gear-switching. At the far end of the gallery are two confident, monolithic polystyrene sculptures created by Nicolas Deshayes covered in glow-in-the-dark paint, featuring contoured ripples resembling unusual snow drifts or futuristic architectural renderings. Projected on the sculpture is Karin Kihlberg and Rueben Henry's This Story Is About a Little Boy, a lovely piece of storytelling, in which a narrator describes a half-remembered film which has been illustrated by fragments of clips, which, each time they fade out, are held for a few moments by the light on the phosphorescent paint.
Marjolijn Dijkman's film is a cinematic timeline of films that have depicted the future from 2008 to the year 802.701 AD, each flickering between the period from the past that they were made in and the premonitory or fantastical visions of the future, while Ruth Beale's prints, their images taken from library book versions of William Morris's utopian science-fiction tale News from Nowhere, are rendered in psychedelic dayglow shades, as though advertising a counter-cultural "mind-expanding" event, which, indeed, they are.
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