On Friday I visited “Transverse” at Pinnacles Gallery, Riverway. I heard good things about it, and the gallery invite was… inviting!
The transverse exhibition binds together artists from all over the world into a hot pot of new media art designed to feed those hungry for new ideas and exploration. It continues on from IDAprojects’ “Vernacular Terrain” which spoke more about the separation of cultures but contained a unified core, where as transverse focuses more on the similarities of the nature of each culture. The most outstanding works are usually from Asian contemporary artists which says a lot for their society. Regular people would never think Chinese and Taiwanese artists had much to do with the contemporary arts scene, especially the realm of new media. But this exhibition opens their mind to the asian people’s perspective and gives them a unique view on their commentary on the state of humanity and the world we live in.
A favourite example of this perspective of modern society is “Kusi 2005 – Orange Flowers 5″ where artist Yeh Yi Li from Taiwan seemingly pokes fun at or simply showcases the cheap rubbish internet culture which exists online. The word Kusi comes from the Japanese word for shit and it’s often used to describe different kinds of media like “kuso-ge” which is a contracted form of shitty game. In the poster you can see the artist dressed as a Kuso character as she invades the everyday lives of people walking the streets, or takes part in other events like a river ride or family dinner. You’d be forgiven for thinking that her suit is based on phallic imagery, but it really just embodies the rubbish ‘kuso’ culture. The character she plays often has strange powers given to her by whoever her creator is, which doesn’t seem to do a lot other than look visually ‘magic’.
Another captivating piece is “angel soldier” by Lee Yong-Baek. It reminds viewers of the “magic eye” books where you stared at a patterned page in a book until an image appeared in 3D inside it. The video at first glance looks like a mess of flowers, a bit like a computer’s wallpaper. But on closer inspection, you notice that areas of the flowers are moving. It’s actually very clever, the artists has the background, the characters, and the foreground covered in the exact same flower pattern and texture. The characters move about very slowly, so you wouldn’t notice they were there straight away, and you might just think you’re staring at a hypnotising kaleidoscope of flowers. The piece forces you to take a step back and look at the big picture rather than focus on one area, otherwise you can’t see the subtle shadows and highlights and movement changes that reveal what you’re really looking at. It’s a bit of a parallel for mindfulness and sensitive consciousness.
“Out of place” the series (by Leung Mee Ping, China) takes you into a world where you can only spectate. There are four screens and headphones which represent four localities in Asia. Each one transports you to that location and pits you in the middle of the experience of being there. Watching what happens and listening to the sounds of the place. Picking the most interesting looking screen will confront you with a buzz of city noise and could give you a headache, considering without the headphones, it looks like the best location. But picking the screen which seems to cause discomfort on it’s own: watching an old woman struggling to walk down a street is quite peaceful in comparison. You can’t help to wonder how her story advances, but the video runs on a loop.
There was also a clip that commented on the events of September 11 which was a bit explicit (you had to ask the gallery staff to view the full version) by Edouard Salier called “Flesh”. It had 3D models of buildings being smashed into by planes, over-layed with pornographic imagery. The “G-rated” version was exactly the same, but without the overlay. The effects of the plane smashing into the building were not realistic, but rather very geometric and more symbolic than factual.
Just here you can see a bit of a spy shot I found from a friend’s facebook. The placement of each work and seating was quite good, but I felt a bit uncomfortable with the gallery staff watching from their desk as I transversed the exhibition (haha!). It was a bit like being under surveillance. Every time I visit a well-curated exhibition I feel like I’ve learnt something and can look at certain things in the world in a new light or with another perspective. IDAprojects have a great track record for this sort of achievement and I’ll definitely be on the lookout for their next project.