Tuesday, November 01, 2005


Last week I was finally able to get over to the newly reopened De La Warr Pavilion to see the Variety show. Variety was partly curated by (the late) Ian Breakwell and the exhibition is interesting in having a mix of artists that one doesn’t tend to see so often these days. Aside from work by Breakwell himself there are pieces by the likes of David Hall, Boyd Webb, Bruce McLean, and Brian Catling, all well established but somewhat out of fashion artists. Alongside these were the more bankable Bruce Nauman, Cindy Sherman and Mark Wallinger.

The uninitiated wouldn’t have really noticed the difference between the more or less fashionable artists as the whole experience was evened out by the display technique. As with many contemporary shows one wanders from one small blacked out screening space to another. In between the projections are the wall based, static or non-projected works.

The combination of the projected and the non-projected leads to a curious effect. Coming out of a screening space accustomed to motion one tends to oneself flitting over the static; it is hard to make the effort to stand still particularly as people brush past on their way to the next projection. However having then got used to the static there is then a tendency to just pop one’s head around the corner of the next darkened space and just glance at the projected. It is as if each requires some different way of looking.

None of this is unique to Variety it is the contemporary gallery norm. The problems are different to those of the single consecutive screening a la 291 (Where one piece is shown after the other on the same wall) but both are in the end unsatisfactory ways of showing projected work. Is there an alternative between the just passing (gallery) and the trapped in situ (screening)?

Perhaps, just perhaps the future lies (as with most current broadcast media) with digital delivery. A delivery that puts the viewer to an extent in control of the reception process. Currently 1MB broadband only allows for low res streaming but within five years, 8MB and then 24 MB will be common and this will mean the viewer will be able to watch full motion hi res, at home or streamed to a screening space anywhere. We are not talking interactivity here but of allowing the audience space to view a work; the freedom to linger or to wander but not hurried or harassed into either.

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