concept archive object exhibition -- from curators for curators



Laure Genillard London 11 December 2015 - 13 February 2016

review by Anthony Tremlett

gabriel-stones-Untitled-2015-video-still.jpg-“What do you want it to be like?”
-“I want it to be persuasive, encouraging and to make you feel good. And I want it to be sexy but a little bit creepy too; progressive; not too noisy, too mystical or over bearing; just cool.”

As he wakes on the morning of 11th December 2015 - only hours before the exhibition’s debut -- artist Gabriel Stones gives this faint response to his girlfriend’s inquiries into his newest works. The audio recording of their conversation is the starting point for Stones’ 2015 video Dig Yourself (from which the exhibition also takes its name), currently on view at Laure Genillard Gallery. As evidenced by his art, Stones is a geek and a sculptor of sorts. His work likens him to a curious stroller into the realms of gravity, mass and objecthood, who also wants to take us astray among a strange post-human and paranoiac milieu.

Dig Yourself: the title alone conjures up a sort of mental and physical self-excavation. The exhibition is comprised of two video works - one televised, the other projected. Both were constructed in three-dimensional animation via new physics engines offered by free software that the artist accessed online.

In the first gallery, one encounters Untitled (2015), a video work whose monitor hangs on a narrow wall constructed by Stones, and is stationed just shy of the space’s centre. On the television’s screen, one sees the ornate talons of an unfamiliar blue bird perched on and lightly clutching a precarious-looking balloon, seemingly near-bursting. The silence is mesmerising and allows the viewer to imagine what this semi-cyborg bird might look like infull. The focus on the bird’s claws, as it slowly tightens and releases its grip, plays tricks on the mind. Such stillness emphasises one’s own stillness, thus eventually creating a sense of inertia, and posing the question: is the sway experienced by the viewer, or is it onscreen? For the first time, we are confronted with a glimpse into Stones’ post-human proclivities.
The downstairs gallery boasts a larger video piece. Projected onto a wooden panel that hovers in the darkness, the screen is fastened to the floor by a taut rope and sandbag. This material composition cites the artist’s ability to produce sculpture in both physical and virtual spheres. Dig Yourself (2015) presents the viewer with assorted utilitarian objects, dialogue bubbles, and diaristic words and phrases. One such object is a chrome screw that flops and flips in space whilst serenaded by the progressive drone of an electric guitar. Next, a Duracel battery enters the scene, followed by a slither of fabric; then the moon; a Stanley blade; and the words “yeah,” “maybe,” and “what I wanted to say was that...” These phrases drop buoyantly onto the stark-white projection, creating a sense of anticipation as they transition from three to two dimensions in front of us.

At one point, as if literally swooping in and leaving its post from the upper gallery, the blue bird appears onscreen, diving and plucking up two human silhouettes. This act confirms the bird’s cyborg existence. Again the ontology of these anachronisms is put into question and a reality check is in order. Underneath all of this vivid imagery and fetishism for physics lingers something slightly ominous. The delicacy of each object’s movement amounts to a seductive glimpse into a illusive world, one of dystopia, rifled with anxiety that spawns at every moment of Stones’ interplay. The artist gently reminds us that while technology has the ability to alter physics and biology, encouraging us to ask: as technology rapidly advances, are we bound to come into a new digital age of oblivion?