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223 Presents: INTERFACE

19 May 2015 | Imogen Greenberg

Gallery 223 is tucked away behind Waterloo station, built in to the tunnels and arches. 223 Presents is a pop-up exhibitions program that platforms emerging artists. Currently that’s Shuster + Moseley, whose show INTERFACE explores traditional and technological interfaces. London Calling spoke to the artists Edward Shuster and Claudia Moseley, and Gallery Manager and Curator Alex Wood about the exhibition, and its unusual setting.

 

London Calling: Your work re-appropriates traditional and technological interfaces. What’s the significance of an interface to you, and why do you feel such discussion is relevant today?

Claudia & Edward: Contemporary society proliferates with technological and architectural interfaces that coordinate information and constellate our experience of the world. These interfaces interact with light as virtualized, illuminated objects which collapse dimensionality - the three dimensions of space are collapsed into the dimensions of a screen.

This is what led us to explore the materiality of these devices, which led us to glass. Within our work, glass and transparency has become
a metaphor for the disappearance of matter - as Paul Virilio has pointed out - a process that signifies the collapsing of a wider relational field and implicates the orientation of the material body in its ontological perspective. Our work uses the medium of glass to address the materiality of the interface in relation to this perspective, exposing it to the light spectrum and geometric conditions in such a way as to expand its dimensions and abstract the relations with which it interfaces.

In this way the work seeks to move from an understanding of the interface in terms of its application as a perceptual tool and towards an understanding of the embodied psycho-physical interface as an ontological agent. Each work crystallises, refracts or collapses particular planes, geometries and horizons of light. This process has involved utilising practices derived from traditional arts that have been historically concerned with influencing people’s ontological experience (geometry,
stained glass, glass blowing), alongside aspects of contemporary physics and technology (screens, optics) that programme information and our perception in the contemporary world. 

 

London Calling: Your previous work looks at the relation between nature and social interaction. Is this still a concern in your current practice? 

C & E: We are interested in the relations between perceptual space and the broader geo-social and technological context - people’s interaction with and response to the lived environment.

The subject matter of this show, which fundamentally concerns light, allows us to address these relations through nature – the nature of light, geometry, material. Light is not simply that which makes things visible, but can itself be made visible. As such, the tension between the spatial and the optical is a plane for psychonautic investigation – where the viewer can relate the constitution of the artwork, as an interface, to states of consciousness.

For us, this investigation naturally extends from the horizon of the mind’s eye to the horizon of the earth’s atmosphere, which is what we aim to represent in the work. This exploration can be scaled up into larger socio-architectural projects that again disrupt or re-appropriate the apparatus of the everyday environment to provoke particular states of perception. The designs for our pavilions are each based on the formation of lenses, and aim in this way to embody the social effect to which they aspire. In this way our work remains fundamentally about the relationship between nature and social interaction in its concern.

 

London Calling: Past artwork have been interventions in public places such as the Treehouse Gallery in Regents Park. What was your interest in working with Gallery 223?

C & E: Gallery 223 is set in the railway arches underneath Waterloo Train Station. This subterranean, cave-like environment has the archaic feeling of an underworld – a secretive, dark and mysterious setting quite unlike any traditional gallery. We were struck by the way the damp bricks and arches would contrast against crystalline geometry and glass, but moreover we felt that the environment was set up for the kind of alchemical investigation we are pursuing; recalling gems hidden beneath the earth that point to the stars, and interior lights which reveal their character and gravity in absence of the light of the sun.


London Calling: Gallery 223 is 'artist created'- what does this mean, and how is it different to other galleries?

Alex Wood:
Gallery 223 was created by contemporary British artist Tom Leamon, who has spent his artistic career transforming disused and unusual spaces into multi- purpose creative spaces. Tom is extremely passionate about art but more predominantly about the environment in which it is created.

Since Tom has moved to Portugal to set up an artist residency program called ‘The Beekeepers’, I have created a pop-up exhibition program called ‘223 Presents’. My aim is to facilitate artistic development and reputation whilst maintaining the autonomy of the artist and the gallery’s identity as an open and diverse space. What sets us apart is that artists remain independent and join our Arts Club membership scheme facilitating them to expand their practice by supplying them with material and the space to create and exhibit. The setting of the gallery also allows for a unique interaction with the art; one that is intimate but also more accessible. 


London Calling: '223 Presents' aims to give a platform to young and emerging artists. Is London a difficult city to be an emerging artist in? Do you think other galleries can do more to help?

AW: I think it’s hard for emerging artists anywhere. Often ‘making it’ for an artist comes with a loss of control and high commission rates on sales. 223 Presents was set up to facilitate artists with the space and the platform to showcase and explore their practice. I work collaboratively with artists and aim to put on exhibitions with curatorial focus. I encourage artists to set up a discussion throughout their work rather than just present a static display of a current collection. In that sense the exhibition is a beginning not an end. 

Claudia and Edward’s exhibition ‘Interface’ is a fantastic example of that. Their work is thoughtful, and the show as a whole has a strong focus. To me their work is like what I would imagine relics of our time to look like. They consider devices that are integral to our experience of the world today and reveal how our perception is in some ways framed and co-ordinated.

223 Presents: INTERFACE is on until 31st May. For more information about the exhibition and the gallery, please see the gallery website.

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