Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Dark Matters

At the beginning of the month I took a trip down Manchester way and totally loved the city! It had a real buzz about it and I loved the gothic/tudor architecture mixed in with the modern. Me and my friend took a trip to the Whitworth Art Gallery (part of Manchester Univeristy). I'd read good things about it online and wasn't disappointed. The 'Dark Matters' exhibition is one of the best I've seen (and I saw some good things when at The Tate and Vancouver Art Gallery). An overview of the exhibit is best described from the guide I picked up at the gallery (that would be a paper one, not the human guide): '...artists...employ a range of technology, media and machinery to engage with ideas surrounding shadow, darkness and illusion. In an exhibition populated by half-seen spectres, visual riddles and distorted reflections, works are united by themes of temporality, absence, truth and wonder'.

Click here to see some examples of the works on show:

I really loved the strangeness of Pascal Grandmaison's 'Fake Imagery of a World Upside Down' picture which looks like a man is falling off the face of the earth. Quite an unsettling image and when I watched the film Melancholia last week this image popped into my head. In fact, the opening sequence of Meloncholia was like an art exhibition in motion and would have fitted in really well into 'Dark Matters'.

The photo at the top of the blog posting was one I took of a picture in the exhibition by John Lathum called 'No It'. The picture is about the 'notice of time, Universe and the places humans inhabit'. You can see my faint reflection in the photo - when you stand in front of this art work you can clearly see yourself as part of the picture which I thought was really cool as you become part of the art.

Another great section of the exhibition was the Brass Art installation 'Still Life No.1'. Standing in a white room with shadows dancing around the walls, consisting of small people and trees and magical shapes made me feel like I was standing inside a childhood memory. It demonstrated the magical effect light can create as it was such a simplistic set up (a table in the corner of the room contained plastic models and figurines with a single light bulb fixed on them as they spun around a small circular mechanism). So inspiriing to see something so small create such a great spectacle.

Daniel Rozin's work was also amazing. When standing in front of his 'Snow Mirror' the screen was a fuzz of snow (like when your TV goes on the blink) and then gradually my image appeared in black and white amongst the snow, forming into a weird slow motion 'computerised' version of me. When I waved the image waved back, like an alternative me was saying hello from another digital dimension.

I'll leave you with a quote from the Russian writer Maxin Gorky (published in the gallery guide), where he is describing his first impression of the Lumiere Brothers cinematic showcase: (which kind of sums up my impression of this exhibit minus the word terrible!)
"Last night I was in the Kingdom of Shadows.... If one could only convey the strangeness of this world. A world without colour and sound...No life, but a shadow of life...It is terrible to see, this movement of shadows, nothing but shadows, these spectres, these phantoms."


  1. Hi Vikki, interesting post. Manchester is a great city, isn't it? And I've always found the Mancunians very friendly and funny. I love the quote from Maxim Gorky about the Kingdom of Shadows.

  2. Thanks Maggie! Yes, really loved the city - particularly the Northern Quarter. My friend lives just outside of Manchester so hope to go back at somepoint to do more exploring!

  3. Fascinating post, Vikki - I love your take on the art exhibition (lots of inspiration there) and the Gorky quote!

  4. Shadows, spectres, phantoms ... it sounds as if you were moving in another world, Vikki. Which I suppose you were, in a way. I don't know Manchester well, I've just passed through, but it sounds a great city to visit.

  5. Nice to hear from you Joan. I would say it's a city well worth a visit!x