Origin of Painting, Theophony and National Grid


Archive Exhibitions (10 November to 16 December 2001)
A series of screen projections and sound installations were set up in Fabrica to explore the collusion between art and science. An environment of disrupted interferences and disorientating reverberations filled the gallery, with ghostly figures appearing after a blast of light.
As history – or myth – has it, the origin of painting lies in the outline of shadows cast on cave walls… its evolution, going hand in hand with technological advancement, leads us to the invention of photography as the ultimate art of light-sensitive shadows.

The exhibition comprised three works: Origin of Painting, Theophony and National Grid by artist Joe Banks (Disinformation).

The Origin of Painting is an interactive optokinetic sound and light work, a huge light sensitive painting onto which viewers can inscribe images of their own shadows through a game of interactivity between visitors to the gallery and the production of the artwork, an ephemeral mark through the exploration of technology.

National Grid is a sub-bass sound installation, originally sourced from the VLF-band radio field radiated by electricity pylons and alternating current electricity, in this case sourced live from the outputs of mains transformers. National Grid is a hypnotic, monolithic tribute to the creative vision of the architects of nationwide electrification, and provides the soundtrack for a new video made in collaboration with film-maker Barry Hale. Spellbound is based on Mike Michnovicz’s portrait of the nuclear scientist Robert Oppenheimer, and an optical illusion visible in Bernard Waldman’s aerial photograph of the ‘lake’ of glass melted into the sand of the atomic test site at Trinity, New Mexico, July 16th, 1945.

Theophany (Voice of God) is a sound installation lasting for 0.083 seconds: a magnetic field VLF radio recording of a single frequency-dispersed noise peak radiated by lightning in a tropical electric storm.

About The Artist

Disinformation is a sound, video and kinetic art project, which, since 1995, produced a series of pioneering experimental music and installation art works, using electromagnetic (often VLF radio) noise, radiated by live mains electricity, lightning, industrial and IT hardware, railway and metro systems, and even the sun, etc. Disinformation rapidly crossed-over into the field of installation art, exhibiting the highly influential “National Grid” sound installation at the Museum of Installation in 1997, “The Analysis of Beauty” at Kettle’s Yard, and a hugely successful (and wildly interactive) sound, light and experimental painting installation (since retitled “The Origin of Painting”) at The Hayward Gallery in 2000, among many others. Disinformation also exhibited and published the earliest (and, to date, the most extensive) artist documentations of the monolithic concrete air-defence “sound mirrors” found at various sites on the UK coast.

Disinformation has recorded 8 commercially published CDs and LPs, performed more than 100 concerts, exhibited in over 50 gallery shows, and been the subject of 16 UK solo exhibitions. Disinformation has performed and exhibited internationally and in the UK, in nuclear bunkers, bank vaults, chapels and church crypts, a railway tunnel, trawlers, a punk squat, cinemas, outdoor sculpture parks, nightclubs, community centres, pubs, cocktail bars, libraries, numerous universities and art galleries, in the Olympic stadium in Barcelona and in major galleries and museums.

Disinformation exhibits have been described as “actively thrilling” by The Financial Times, as “particularly sensuous” by The Wire, as “visually sophisticated (and) distinctive and intelligent” by Art Monthly, and as “mesmerising” by Aesthetica Magazine. Author Hari Kunzru described Disinformation as (the) “poet of noise”, sci-fi author Jeff Noon wrote in The Independent that “people are fascinated by this work”, The Metro newspaper described Disinformation as “the black-ops unit of the avant garde”, and The Guardian wrote that “Disinformation combine scientific nous with poetic lyricism to create some of the most beautiful installations around”.

Disinformation founder Joe Banks is a former Honourary Visiting Fellow at the City University in London, an AHRC-sponsored Research Fellow at Goldsmiths College and the University of Westminster, and author of the book “Rorschach Audio – Art & Illusion for Sound”. Joe has written for Art Monthly, for Cabinet, Sound Projector and Shoppinghour magazines, for Strange Attractor Journal, The Psychologist (published by the British Psychological Society), for the AXNS (Art x Neuroscience), MIA Journal (Moving Image Artists) and Clot Magazine websites, and for Leonardo Music Journal (published by the MIT Press).



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