The Mesh @ Watermans

// Mar-May 2017 //

A small group exhibition by The London Group at the Watermans Art Centre New Media Gallery curated by Genetic Moo and Irini Papadimitriou.

17 March – 21 May 2017
Daily 10am – 9pm, FREE
Private View : Friday 17th March 6 – 9pm
Watermans Art Centre
40 High St, Brentford, TW8 0DS

The London Group‘s constitution, written in 1913, states “…the object of the Group shall be to advance public awareness of contemporary visual art by holding exhibitions annually.” Over 100 years later and now firmly in the digital age, the most exciting contemporary art is digital art – the time was right for this Small Group Exhibition.

When we first started making digital art with its weightless data, ones and zeroes, the aim was to fit the entire output onto a single floppy disc. So it is somewhat ironic that The Mesh was one of the heaviest shows we’ve been involved in, with over one third of a ton of wooden pallets and miles of cabling and equipment. The range of work on show was testament to the spread of digital technology into all things both virtual and physical.

We joined the Group in 2011 in part due to James Faure Walker being a member of the Group, as we’ve always been a fan of his intertwining of digital and non-digital artistic techniques. Here James showed two prints which displayed his unique copying, pasting and layering operations. A vital first step in the history of computing was the way in which the Jacquard Loom used replaceable punched cards to control a sequence of weaving operations. As soon as we saw Angela Eames’ chain mail prints with complex meshed surfaces algorithmically built up of simple 3D models, the title for the show was born. We started seeing meshes everywhere. Cadi Froehlich’s work is a mesh of cable passing a single current through the ceiling suspension, delivering power to small LED lights and highlighting the infrastructures which power our world. Amanda Loomes’ piece traced the process of construction and also the globetrotting nature of wooden pallets which criss cross the earth to bring us our daily bread, amazon books, fridge freezers and everything else under the sun. The light driven ants and maggots which eat through Genetic Moo’s video feed build a living and dying mesh of interconnections. 3D meshes form the mathematical basis of works by David Theobald and Bryan Benge. We even started to see the Group itself as a mesh of members, ideas, technologies and art.

We’d like to thank Irini Papadimitriou for co-curating the show and offering such a wonderful opportunity to the Group. The tech staff were also fantastic dealing not only with hanging wall based art but also working out how to convert signals from AVI to HDMI to Ethernet and sending them seamlessly around the space. Thanks to David Theobald, Victoria Rance and Genetic Moo for running workshops over 5 weeks with a small and enthusiastic group of digital newbies. The show received 1,970 visitors according to the digital clicker.

Many of the artists gave a talk at the Private View night and, in particular, we’d like to highlight Bryan Benge, who explained the ease and flexibility of digital technologies that are available to artists to use for free and which are supported and engaged with by excitable online communities around the world.

Google, Snapchat, Facebook, Bitcoin, 3D printing, twittering presidents, fake news, driverless cars, robot vegetable pickers, drones, virtual reality, the internet of things – whether you see this technological explosion as frightening or exciting – a great way to address our digital world and its interconnected ecosystems is by using digital art techniques. The first rule of ecosystems thinking is that everything is connected to everything else and hopefully this show encourages more digital conversations and collaborations in the Group, and more digital artists to join the Group in the future.

Exhibiting artists: James Faure Walker, Cadi Froehlich, Paul Tecklenberg, Amanda Loomes, Judith Jones, Angela Eames, Eric Fong, David Theobald, Victoria Rance, Erika Winstone, Bryan Benge, Ian Parker, Peter Lowe and Genetic Moo