Feb. 24 – Mar. 19, 2016
The works in this exhibition by Sorawit Songsataya and Kim Laughton engage with and reinterpret the role of the now-ubiquitous mode of computer generated image-making. However, unlike contemporary video games or movies, the works on display are not flashy, illusionistic entertainments, but enigmatic, inscrutable pseudo-spaces, which demand to be dealt with on their own terms.
Songsataya’s video work Flora, Fauna and Merryweather depicts 3D rendered animations of potted plants on a background of shiny, rippling metallic fabric. The works have an aesthetic that speaks of a time when computer graphics were in their comparative infancy, and rendering 3D spaces on a screen was considered an almost futuristic achievement. In our current state of digital hyper-saturation, such visuals are a common sight, but Songsataya’s work calls into question our level of comfort with this type of imagery, suggesting that the smooth contours of computer-generated polygons might be a façade hiding something far more sinister. His work explores the way mass media encourages us to idolise the unreal, the fake and the imagined, creating a pervasive contemporary mythology of “screen-ready” perfection. Also on display are some of the artist’s 3D-printed vases, quirky sad-faced mascots reminiscent of emojis or children’s cartoons. These objects bridge the divide between the virtual and the physical, bringing up the unnerving possibility that these two realms may bleed into one another even more drastically in the future.
Kim Laughton’s works, although more visually dense and complex than Songsataya’s, likewise engage with the irrational streak in contemporary digital culture, although Laughton’s approach is much darker and more enigmatic. The works on display, cryptically titled only Scene 1, Scene 2and Scene 3, are devoid of human presence, but are all constructed around the human body’s supporting cast of machines, objects and prostheses. In Scene 1, a vacant chair in a darkened room faces a monitor, while speakers, keyboard and mouse all stand ready, providing the potential for input and output on the behalf of the absent user. The other Scenes depict an empty escalator ascending through lush vegetation and an exercise machine moving on its own, while a quartet of speakers bombard the uninhabited space with inexplicable instructions. In all three scenarios, the space stands ready to accept the viewer’s own presence, an invitation to immersion which feels disconcertingly like a trap.