Brink by New West New Media Gallery
New Media Gallery–Anvil Centre
New Westminster, BC.
February 25th-April 30th, 2017
The New Media Gallery in New Westminster’s Anvil Centre showcases their
innovative new space in their debut exhibition, bringing together five international
artists that exploit the link between human and technology. The dimly lit, minimalist
space transports you through Brink, as it opens up the most common tropes and
overdrawn notions of dystopic sci-fi (anarchy vs. control, freedom of choice vs. its
repercussions, notions of success vs. failure or stasis.) Featuring a range of media,
sculptural, and installation-based practices, Brink re-grounds them with an element of magic that is both revealing and covering; or rather, it is revealing of what is covered and hidden from us in technology.
Jacob Tonski’s robotic couch installation, "Balance from Within," is raised and teeters on a single foot. A vacuum-like hose trails out to connect with a small white box, refusing to answer whether it is a necessary part to keep the couch upright at such a precarious angle or if it is an ambiguous suggestion to technological tensions in the home. This illusionist act is interrupted by the sounds that occur and echo at random through the space. There is a sound warning as you enter the gallery; “Intermittent loud (prop) revolver shots in gallery and large hammers hitting metal.” The hammers come from Stefan Tifengraber’s User Generated Server Destruction. A semi-interactive, semi-voyeuristic piece that asks viewers to access a website and activate the server machine, displayed in the gallery, and its function of self-destruction through hammering itself. David Bowen's "Fly Revolver," which features a revolver on an automated arm, swivels and points where viewers gather in correspondence to the live feed of flies that swarm the acrylic orb placed beside it–awaiting the moment when a fly enters the bulls-eye and fires a loud blank.
The joke with Bowen’s piece would be if there were repellent in the bullseye.
Raised out of the uncanny valley sci-fi tropes (in which machine begins to imitate
human) this show become more about the anticipation of an event that never comes
and the brief eternal moment in between. Through that anticipation the work plays
between logic and magic to suspend and question our belief and doubt. As machine
encroaches on how we perceive agency and exceeds physics, we are met with the
futility of monitoring and attempting to uncover the event or true operations of tech.
The limits of our understanding are the limits of our human capacities.