Systems are ubiquitous components of modern life. They represent the myriad structures we negotiate in our daily lives and the frameworks we use to build, manage and comprehend a complex world. The group show ‘Systematic’, staged at Hobart's Plimsoll Gallery, explores contemporary artistic approaches to concepts of ‘the system’ through the work of eight Australian artists. Engaging with sculpture, installation, photography, generative animation, painting and assemblage, the works explore the material dynamics of systems and the conceptual currency of systems’ principles. Canvassing the impacts of systems in technological, archival, political and ecological arenas, the artists examine the shifting definitions of what is ‘human’ in the vast network of systematic relations impacting our daily lives.

Curated by Dr Eliza Burke, the exhibition features works that reference particular kinds of systems and explore questions of connectivity, order and interdependency. Patrick Pound’s collection of photographs from his ‘Small World’ series (2015) anchors the system in the anthropocentric, with juxtapositions of seemingly unrelated snapshots poetically and microcosmically examining our place in the world. Contrastingly, links between the organic and the mechanic; human consciousness and technological systems, are scrutinised by Bill Hart in his autonomous writing machine, which produces a continuous stream of ‘handwriting’ from a mix of of 3D printed parts, scavenged hardware from old printers, and contemporary ‘open hardware’ parts.

Ian Burns’ installation Circle (2016) reconfigures the functions of domestic items – an umbrella, a set of fans and two inflated latex gloves – to critique the impacts of political and economic systems; the circulation of consumer goods and political cycles of human exploitation. Familiar found objects are also recontextualised by Nadège Phillipe-Janon, whose sculptural installation stages an interplay of material elements and the physical processes of heat, light, reaction and refraction to examine the power and fragility of eco-human connections. Contemporary concepts of ecology are further explored in Tega Brain’s photographic series Keeping Time, which was created by scraping the Flickr database for images of particular plant species and laying the results out according to their time stamp. These works consider how new technologies inform the way we measure, record and organise information about biological systems. Laura Woodward also approaches the ‘system’ from an environmental position in her kinetic structure Writhe (2015), a complex apparatus that pumps water throughout the gallery space in an ostensible quest for equilibrium, evoking the sustainability of water systems and the homeostasis of the human body.

Tricky Walsh’s psychedelic gouache paintings visualise spatial and communication concerns, their geometric and symmetric forms exploring how technological histories inform our systems of thinking and interaction. A similar aesthetic can be found in the intricate stacked paper cuts of Jacob Leary – hyper-coloured geometric forms generated from algorithmic formulas and digital drawing techniques that resemble geographic topographies.

Together, the artists in ‘Systematic’ prompt us to reflect on our own relationship to contemporary systems, positing them as robust but fragile products of human invention.

8 September – 14 October 2018
Plimsoll Gallery, Hobart



Latest  /  Most Viewed  /  Related