The Origin of Painting

10 November - 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. ​