art projects

Current – exhibition and collection at Harris Museum and Art Gallery

By Ruth Catlow – 27/03/2011

On Friday night the Harris Museum and Art Gallery in Preston opened an exhibition called Current (produced in partnership with Folly). http://www.current-experiment.org.uk/
The first piece of digital art to be collected as part of the Harris Museum permanent collection was also announced as Thomson & Craighead’s piece ‘The distance travelled through our solar system this year and all the barrels of oil remaining’ (2011)

I spent a long time with Michael Szpakowski’s piece of gif cinema ‘House and Garden’. I already knew and liked the work well but something about the spacious gallery setting and sitting on a bench in front of it with other visitors gave this quivering eulogy to the everyday an additional beauty and poignancy that I can’t really explain. The Thomson and Craighead piece is audaciously simple and wonderful and pinned me to the spot as I contemplated what and how these scrolling figures were mapping. James Coupe’s reconstruction of a Pinter play ‘using’ the visitors to the museum is clever and intriguing (especially his cheeky play on unwilling/unwitting participation). Boredomresearch’s ‘Lost Calls of Cloud Mountain Whirligigs’ are enchanting and strange and Harwood, Wright and Yokokoji’s Tantalum Memorial- Reconstruction combines physical presence and mystique with crooked social critique and is just awesome.

I was on selection panel for this exhibition so I would think it was good wouldn’t I? : ) But… hats off and high in the air for the Harris Museum. They are rightly proud to have made such a good job of exhibiting and collecting the kind of work that is still often ignored here in the UK. It’s mystifying to me why more art galleries and museums aren’t fighting to show more of this kind of work. There is something particular about artists who work with technology in this reflexive way that focuses our attention on how humans simultaneously reflect and shape the world. It looks and sounds fantastic, it is conceptually complex, ranges from playful to mischievous, involves the viewer in a complex reflection of everyday experience.

You can find out more about the artists and the work here.

Go and see it. It’s nearly in the middle of England- only 2 hours on the train from London – well worth it.