A Restoration: reality and artifice

Now is the time of image searching, filters and the selfie. Are we at an age where our own archive, far removed from civilisations past, shall forever be in a digital format?  Is the time of making beautiful things and the craft of clay, ink and gouache surrendered to heavy metal memory?

In Elizabeth Price’s “A Restoration” https://www.sitegallery.org/exhibition/re-collections/

the servers of the archived data of the Ashmolean Museum are writ large on large video screens.  Their splendour displayed in often rapid succession.  A barrage of sensory information, form and beauty. All the while a gentle rumble begins to soar.  

The artist herself explores the design of the cochlea and it’s resonant quality, studied and thereupon recreated by the ancient civilisation who built the labyrinth at Knossos. I found it fascinating how through images of the artefacts recovered and reflections upon their tactile use we are able to foster a deeper connection to them as items of trade, commodity and transaction. The wet clay reused, the malleability making way for new forms.  All the while the juxtaposition of the sensuality of the clay and the cold animatronic voice.  

This disembodied narrator informs the audience while the text is presented on a screen.  Slightly delayed as if being downloaded.  I was reminded of my many hours playing the video game resident evil, the evil Umbrella Corporation warmly coddling you in its artificially generated worlds.  Through cataloguing and recreating these images, 3D modelling and digital archives, are we creating a disconnect?  Has the rhythm left the heart of the objects or must we find better ways to imply it?  Is data sufficient to impart the soul of art? 

Towards the end of the piece, a glass is sent tumbling to the floor.  The silence punctuated by a crisp note of pure clarity.  The cave reverberates.  The darkness of the space seems once again to draw us in.  The cave is safe and warm.  To me this use of sound perfectly highlights the viewers interaction between the imagined and the authentic.


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