The Negligent Eye

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The Negligent Eye is running at The Bluecoat until 15th of June this year and I would definitely recommend a viewing. Curated by Jo Stockham, the exhibition shows the use of digital technology in art by showcasing a number of different contemporary artists and even a few not-so-recent pieces.

I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to this exhibition for a number of different reasons with the chief amongst those being that I went along with my husband. Now I’m not being cheesy here! Rather, I had never taken my husband to see contemporary art, although he’s very happy to go along to more traditional galleries with me otherwise I would not have married him, and it doesn’t get much more up-to-date than technological artworks. It was so interesting, and rather hilarious at points, to see the reactions of someone who is alien to the art world encountering and trying to understand things like Conroy and Sanderson’s gigantic projections imitating scanning beams on the walls.

As well as this, I’m currently working on an essay for one of my university modules which actually discusses the infiltration of digital technologies into the gallery space. A lot of the research for this has centred around how difficult it is to curate technological artwork because they are not static pieces and are often hard to display and contextualise for the audience. But in this case I think Jo Stockham has done a wonderful job.

I think my favourite piece by far, and the one my husband found most impressive, was Marilène Oliver’s Family Portrait where the artist had taken screen prints of MRI scans of both her parents and then built them up to create ghostly figures which you could walk around and observe from all sorts of crazy angles. There was something quite eerie and yet awesome about these life-size models which seemed so solid and yet out of focus at the same time.

I also enjoyed the inclusion of some non-contemporary works like a print by 18th Century engraver Thomas Bewick. Or Nicky Coutts’ incorporation of a 15th Century painting in her photographs where she had removed all of the human figures to present a deserted landscape, devoid of all humanity (much in the same way many fear that the increasing digitisation of our world will destroy all things good and human).

The one work I really struggled with was Imogen Stidworthy’s audio-visual installation in the upstairs gallery. The room was too dark and the audio far too loud making the snippets of language spoken disturbing and the entire artwork disconcerting. It’s a shame because the concept behind it, of a multi-lingual transcriber who scans information with his ears rather than the usual visual scan, is really very interesting. However my husband barely stood in for three seconds and even though I tried to last longer I must have left after about half a minute, stumbling back out into the gallery.

This is my second experience of an exhibition at The Bluecoat and I’ve so far been really impressed with how they put on their shows. It always seems to be from such original and interesting conceptions and the curators they get in to work on them really bring a great angle in.

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