Michael Joaquin Grey: Orange between orange and Orange
I've seen a depressingly high number of bland exhibitions this week. But then i also visited one that makes up for all these hours spent tube-ing and walking from gallery to gallery. Have a look:
The redeeming show is the first solo exhibition in the UK of artist and inventor Michael Joaquin Grey since 1992. You get the reason for the title, Orange between orange and Orange, as soon as you enter the gallery.
For Orange between orange and Orange, Grey has produced a group of new inter-related works that playfully transform the narratives and forms associated with the models and myths of Western science, art and spirituality into a multivalent personal cosmology and cultural map.
We're not talking about any kind of orange but about the bright orange i'd call '1970s orange'. Orange fruit is displayed inside a white anatomical bust, strange organic-like shapes are contained inside orange perspex cubes, gigantic orange worms crawl onto the floor, etc. It's playful, medical and disquieting at the same time.
A narrow, adjacent room is turned into a natural history museum display. Everything is rigorously grey but instead of taxidermied animals, the visitor sees a slice in the history of tv set design, with each specimen positioned according to size and chronology. Other pieces in this series of Morphologies show even more historic media devices kept secure behind orange-windowed vitrines.
But it's Grey's 'computational' films that kept me glued to the bean bags. So What is a generative film projected on two screens, a contemporary orrery in which the viewer repeatedly travels at exponentially increasing speeds from a pixel at the centre of the sun through outer space to the furthest reaches of the solar system and back again: a journey that compresses time and space to our perceptual limits. At specific way-markers in this media-saturated universe, the voices of Steve Jobs, Ella Fitzgerald, the Rolling Stones, Miles Davies, James Cameron, Marshal McLuhan, Werner Herzog and others are heard as a soundtrack reminiscent of channel surfing on an old analogue radio. I found it both relaxing and exciting.
Downstairs is Umwelt Belt, another of Grey's computational cinema works. Bland 3D shapes of usb stick, antenna, projector, wrist watch, alarm clock, and other pieces of mechanics or electronics we've all used and consumed at some point in our life are circling in a slow, perpetual abandon in the air. Uniformly grey and discarded like space trash.
Michael Joaquin Grey: Orange between orange and Orange is at the Carroll / Fletcher gallery until 16th February 2013.
SWITCH has an absorbing interview with Michael Joaquin Grey.