Photographs courtesy Steve Iles and the artist

Orientation: Landscape

9 Oct - 16 Dec 2017 | Touchstones Rochdale, UK

Since the first Industrial Revolution, art galleries have been incorporated into a civic strategy for leisure as a counterpart to the industrial mode of work, just as the first railways in the area enabled a quick, regular escape to pleasant destinations, fostering the culture of holidays and tourism.

The exhibition Orientation: Landscape is inspired by the language and creative options borrowed by today’s digital technology from the tradition of painting and in particular, the ‘landscape’ page orientation and the ‘artistic tools’ provided by Microsoft Office Word, a programme massively used today in administrative work. It focuses on the means of allusive representation of nature as an alternative to the organised structures of the modern lifestyle.

On the walls there are three printed representations reminiscent of layered landscapes, made in Microsoft Office Word programme. In these works the drawing tools of MS Word have been used to apply semi-transparent layers on top of one another, creating a horizon, illusory perspective and a sense of spatial depth. The technical production concludes to a number of visible physical fingertip gestures of expressionistic character which wipes off or mixes the cartridge colour. A fourth work shows fingerprints in a grid arrangement similar to those used in official documents for person identification.

In the same space, a loudspeaker connected to a hidden PC is placed opposite the prints. It broadcasts a ‘live’ podcast in a loop. Synthesized female and male voices recite like a script the Wikipedia entry for Arcadia.  In an everyday jargon, PC stands for ‘personal computer’, a technology offering a set of ‘personalised’ tools, settings and levels of automation in support of administrative and communicative tasks of modern humans.

The culturally produced space of Arcadia, the idyllic destination established through poetry and painting, disseminated to the public through art galleries and printed poetry anthologies, has gradually established in the human sub-conscious as a realm of perfection and peace. The synthesized voices refer to automated characters of service facilities also used by travel companies to occasionally assist flight bookings to paradise destinations.

Using a reductive process the exhibition reduces the notion of natural landscape to a commodified item branded and rebranded by promotional strategies and market-oriented culture. Yet in using the technical components of this process, is attempted a revelation of the involuntary roles which the modern human undertakes and bring in the foreground structures of normalisation, working culture and leisure.