Richard Ducker and Robert Good
Private View: Friday 29 May 7-10pm
Exhibition continues: 30 May - 19 July
Open: Sundays 12-5pm
Viewing by appointment is also available: Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays 11am to 3pm. Tuesdays late.
(For appointments email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org)
According to Hito Steyerl, in the 360 degree lens of VR bubble vision ‘…the viewer is at the centre of a sphere yet at the same time he or she is missing. To be eliminated means to be automated, and conversely, to be automated means to be eliminated’. She asks: ‘Are you already rehearsing how to be your own ghost?’
Embedded in this pixelated excess is a repressed economy. Behind the spectacle of the image is a virtual junk space of spam, conspiracy theories, fake news and surveillance stored in giant server farms. This is the debris of the failed and the repressed, a black economy of data and corrupted images, where agency is but an illusion. Rage and fear are the new currency.
‘In evolutionary pre-history, consciousness emerged as a side effect of language. Today it is a by-product of the media.’ John Gray.
BREAKING is a collaborative installation in response to this conundrum by artists Richard Ducker and Robert Good that immerses the viewer into this fraught disconnect and confronts a new self that is fractured to the point of annihilation.
The gallery walls are lined with thousands of collected Google News headlines, transforming the exhibition space into a claustrophobic and disorientating reverberation of claim and counter-claim. From overhead directional speakers is a computer voice narration, one female, one male, reading a text compiled from Facebook newsfeed and a splice extracts from ‘Heaven’s Gate cult and the artist’s spam box. On a wall mounted flat screen is a hypnotic, voyeuristic video of a train journey in which back gardens and private spaces roll past, while the two synthetic voices seemingly engage in a conversation that in fact reveals itself to be a rhythmically choreographed exchange of spam, news fragments and click-bait.
Binding the installation together the gallery floor is carpeted in electric green Astroturf. This substrate upon which we now find ourselves becomes a substitution. Our connectedness to, and grounding in the ‘natural’ world is replaced with a fictional space in which artificiality is the new construct. Not the hyper-reality of online, but its over-heated anti-chamber: a paranoiac waiting room, its corporate foyer. The installation offers a glimpse into this overload, the collapse of privacy, and its corollary, the conspiracy theory’s paranoiac escapism. BREAKING articulates this spectacle of fragmentation and disorientation.
Richard Ducker’s practice brings together a wide variety of processes: sculpture-installation, sound, wall text, video, and photography and juxtapose these discrete elements to suggest narratives of displacement and explore multiple positions of authorship. Sculpture poses as part dumb object and part Sci-Fi metaphor sublimated into spectacle.
While Sci-Fi as a metaphor articulates our hopes, anxieties and desires, a by-product of its escapism is a loss of confidence in the present. It is these elastic narratives of adopted memories and constructed myths locked into a spectacle of theatrical interplay that is of interest. The sculptural object as staged prop, the linguistic deficit, and the curatorial directive of the private, all contribute to this brackish movement of history as fiction, rendering the present unstable and imprecise. With recall and displacement having their effect, it is the sense of ‘wrong place, wrong time' that prevails, or to use Giorgio Agamben’s phrase: ‘out of jointness’.
Robert Good asks how can we make sense of the news we are drowning in? How can we possibly be wise to the subtleties of global, regional and local politics, whilst also keeping abreast of fashion, sport, celebrity, the planet, space, science, and technology? In the world of 24/7 online news it feels like we are being bounced around like a pinball, ricocheting from one attention-seeking headline to another.
Every day for a year artist Robert Good collected the headlines offered to him by the Google News feed in an attempt to pause and stand back: to see if it is possible to externalise the information that we are being fed and somehow to take stock of it.
By offering up a year's worth of headlines, the visual hit of this torrent of data may be strangely calming, a moment of Zen and a chance for reflection.
Richard Ducker's practice as a visual artist brings together a wide variety of processes: sculpture-installation, sound, wall text, video, and photography. He juxtapose these discrete elements to suggest narratives of displacement and explore multiple positions of authorship. Sculpture poses as part dumb object and part Sci-Fi metaphor sublimated into spectacle while rendering the present unstable and imprecise. Recently he has concentrated on a series of films that have developed these themes further.
Since completing his MA from Goldsmiths in 1991 Ducker has been exhibiting as an artist and curator and has exhibited throughout the UK and internationally, including: Kettles Yard, Serpentine Gallery, Royal Academy, Edinburgh; Mappin Gallery, Sheffield; The Yard Gallery, Nottingham; The Kitchen, New York; Katherine E Nash Gallery, Minnesota, USA; Cell Project Space, Café Gallery, Anthony Reynolds Gallery, Arthouse1, Angus-Hughes and dalla Rosa Gallery, London.
Robert Good wrestles with words to consider the frailties of language and the problems of knowledge, with a particular focus on the migration of text from the printed page to the internet. He works with texts like tubes of paint, squeezing them out to explore their underlying rhythms, characteristics and points of failure.
Previous work includes an exploration of over 2400 Geordie dialect words for 'The Word Bank of Lost Dialects' at The National Centre for The Written Word, South Shields; a star map of 500 Northumberland placenames for Allenheads Contemporary Arts and a compilation of over 3000 definitions of art found online into 'A New Dictionary of Art', which has been stocked at Tate Modern, Kettle's Yard and galleries across the UK.
Robert Good holds an MFA with distinction from Cambridge School of Art, Anglia Ruskin University, winning the Searle Award for Creativity. He is the founder of Art Language Location, an artist-run organisation working at the intersection between art, text and place that has hosted work by over 150 artists in locations across Cambridge and beyond. He is based in Cambridge, UK.