Friday, May 1, 2009

ON NOW- to boldly go where everyone has gone before- Rachel Ang

"to boldly go where everyone has gone before"
Rachel Ang
BLINDSIDE artist run space
30 April - 16 May 2009

Gees, I would like to be like Gombrich. Gombrich sounds like he has the story of art sorted. He knows the dates, names and years, “its comprehensive, lucid, (and) authoritive” [1], he’s already worked every thing out in advance so that it is the best, the most accurate, it can possible be. Unlike DangerDoom, Gombrich knows the formula, he speaks the language and has done the math.[2] I don’t think that knowing is the answer though. Or at least, ‘knowing’ is only part of the answer.

Rachel (that’s right, first name basis here homies) boldly goes where everyone has gone before, or so she would have you believe but the difference between Rachel’s trek and everyone whos gone before her is the recognition of going there, and the purposeful nature by boldly going there. An infinite amount of information exists within the most humble of objects, cardboard boxes, drinking glasses, cheap plastic toys, tape, sticks and light. The information and knowledge contained in the all text, mathematics, diagrams and illustrations that exists in all the libraries, museums, universities and galleries all around the world is evident and in existence all around us everyday, contained in mundane situations, conversations, coincidences and the unaware minds of strangers that pass you in the street or are seated at the opposite end of the same train carriage as you.[3]

This is how information and knowledge exists ‘in the wild’ and it is always growing, changing, evolving and mutating in a state of flux with its environment. As your body moves through space (which is a pompous way of saying: “as you walk to the shops for a pack of cigarettes…”), you displace, sorry, not displace, move, you move the air around you, you breathe and by doing so convert the (approximate) 20.95% of oxygen in the air to carbon dioxide, you apply an amount of pressure to the concrete footpath beneath your feet, you increase the strength of earths gravity ever so slightly and over a million other actions which change and adjust the percentages, weights, volumes, energy etcetera of the environment around you.

Our quest for knowledge and documenting what we ‘know’ is shallow at best, we know enough to realize that what we do not know far outweighs that which we do know. Knowing is dangerous to knowledge, in the sense that as soon as we assume that we know anything, we stop questioning or looking in that direction, even though it may only be a fraction of what is to be known. Like an iceberg. Knowing is like an iceberg to Knowledge, a great mass of ice capable of sinking an unsinkable ship, well not a ship, but sinking the possibility of learning more, attaining more knowledge.[4] When an idea is giving a name, jotted down in a book, given parameters and specific details, it is limited, and even though it may be unknown at the time of writing, there is most likely infinitely more to know than what is known. It is like trying to know a person through a single photograph of them. There are no absolute truths, there is luck, fate, coincidences, accidents, gods will and the synchrony of mysterious forces (or at least there is just as much as there is electricity, air pressure and latent energy), there are never complete answers, or if there is an answer it should only serve to remind us that there is uncertainty and it (uncertainty) is good because it enables us to discover some thing new.[5]

Art is a medium, which makes representing this kind of view of natural phenomena and experience of the world around us possible where science fails because it is not bound by the same rules. Ang (seriously now, no casual first names anymore) doesn’t need chemistry tubes, computer programs, graphs or numbers to show us how light travels in between objects and can be blocked by others: two cardboard boxes, a desk lamp, a mirror, a glass bottle and maybe a stick of balsa wood will suffice. The objects are ultimately inconsequential. Representation is kind of pointless; a child’s crayon drawing is no more the real thing than an oil painting by a Dutch master. Diagrams are fine, there’s no need to overwork an image if it communicates the message, the miracle life grows in the work as sprouts break the soils surface in tin cans and potential energy is stored in objects in the way they are placed in relation to one another. ‘To boldly go where everyone has gone before’, goes consciously, both knowingly and unknowingly, boldly and uncertainly, weighing and measuring, stacking and dissembling every step of the way without taking notes, finalizing, totaling or answering.

[1] Sir Hugh Casson, President of the Royal Academy, 1976-84
[2] Danger Mouse and MF Doom, “Sofa King”, The Mouse and the Mask (CD/LP), Epitaph, 2005
[3] Rupert Sheldrake, “The sense of being stared at”, 2003
[4] James Cameron, “Titanic”, 1997
[5] Amy Tan, “where does creativity hide”,, 2008