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From the beginning of time, we have been striving to develop new inventions and technologies which help us achieve things which our bodies can’t. These inventions have become extremely sophisticated in time; from flint axes of our neanderthal ancestors to the most up to date technological gadgets of modern man. We use our sensory systems to explore and understand our world, so understandably, many of these inventions are product of a desire to see, feel, smell, taste and hear much more than is humanly possible. With technology developing at such a fast pace these days, we are spoilt with a variety of sensations which were not available to us before. In the latest show, Extended Senses, at Gallery Loop, six young Korean and Japanese artists look at ways in which technology based art can be used to highlight issues surrounding the extension of our sensory system via modern technology.
Four of the artists chose to focus on the merits of technology and it’s ability to extend our senses. Cameras are used to share visual experiences. Video cameras have the added bonus of sharing audio experiences. Ando Takahiro even uses technology to translate visual experiences into audio ones!
However, the artists that stole the show for me, were the ones who chose to take playful jibes at our reliance on technology. In ‘Corners of Loop,’ 2010, Hank Yungwoo has set up five surveillance cameras, trained on five corners of the gallery. The results are displayed on five screens hung side by side. Most of the time, the screens remain blank, but occasionally your own, or another head, will pass in and out of frame. It’s disorientating and has the creepy feel which I think always accompanies CCTV. However, it brings to our attention otherwise lonely and un-thought of vantage points, simultaneously, reminding us of the limitations of human vision. In Hank’s ‘Red Cabinet,’ 2005, the viewer witnesses an entertaining deconstruction of what first appears to be a 2D TV test screen. People start to emerge from the edges of the vertical and horizontal flat blocks of colour. They weave in between and take apart what becomes apparent as a table, carpet, shoebox, strips of paper and of course, a red cabinet, which all played a part in this charade. And how convincing it was!
Yashiro Satashi’s ‘Velcros Grande,’ 2010, is audible though not visible upon entry to the gallery. It crackles and pops like bacon frying. The work is a series of large black triangles mounted on the walls and hanging from the ceiling. At a glance, they appear to be made of black electrical wires that buzz into life every now and then. Upon closer inspection, it becomes clear that these triangles are actually made from velcro, which is slowly rotating on reels at the corners of the shapes. The reels have the opposite side of the velcro on them which accounts for the sound. The triangles are flimsy yet firm and boldly slice through the gallery space. The physical forms remind me of the silent and invisible physics formulas which are all around us. These simple triangles were made to confuse and surprise by playing on our assumptions.
We clearly rely on technology a lot in our daily lives. I know I’d be a whimpering wreck without my ipod and all it’s apps! All this technology at our fingertips is fantastic but we should not become reliant on it. Nor should we become lazy and rely on our assumptions. There’s a lot we can learn from large black velcro triangles masquerading as the sound of frying bacon!