The Origins of Painting
10 November - 16 December 2001
The Origin of Painting – the piece that gives the title to the exhibition – is an interactive optokinetic sound and light work, a huge light sensitive painting onto which viewers can inscribe images of their own shadows. 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. The 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.
Three screen projections and a set of sound installations were set out in Fabrica to explore the collusion between art and science. 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.